Ginger Nuts of Horror
by alex davis
Dir. Poison Rouge, 60 mins, Italy
All through March Film Gutter will be taking a look at some of the recent and upcoming releases from Unearthed Films. If you haven't heard of them, where have you been? Unearthed have long been bringing out some of the best modern and classic extreme horror movies, and you can check out all their releases at http://www.unearthedfilms.com/news.htm.
Sometimes I'll take a bit of time after watching a film to have a think about its plotline, its characters and its impact upon me. Other times it's to consider some of the complexities that might have been contained therein, giving me some time to unpick a multi-layered movie.
Sacrifice, frankly, I've had to take some time just to get over. In fact there's no way I could have reviewed it right after watching it because I was feeling a pretty shaky and a little faint.
Given some of what has come before at Film Gutter, this should give you an indication of just how brutal Sacrifice is. And I can't even say I wasn't warned – but then I've been told lots of time just how extreme a movie is only to be relatively unmoved. Surely this one couldn't be that bad? But when the head honcho at Unearthed Films himself, Stephen Biro, tells you just how full-on it is, you'd better be listening – the man knows of what he speaks.
Sacrifice follows the story of Daniel, a young man with some pretty serious psychological issues and some deep physical scars to go along with them. He's still struggling with the death of his father, who inhabits the story as a sort of ghost, a disembodied voice that often offers up conflicting instructions. When he returns to his old house, he's not there for a simple trip down memory lane – he's there to carry through a ritual, and one that will involve inflicting some truly hideous and grotesque acts upon himself...
The plot is pretty thin, but then again Sacrifice only runs to sixty minutes, so it doesn't need to be terribly complex. We do get a reasonable amount of set-up of the character and of the situation before we get to the really gruesome stuff, which I think is good – as much as I loved the second entry in the series, Bloodshock, we were rather thrown into that one at the deep end. At least here there's a slightly softer introduction to allow you to get you feet under the metaphorical table before the claret begins to flow.
And man alive does it flow – sure, there might have been movies out there with more blood pouring out of a whole lot more people, but this surely has to be the most blood shed by one individual. The effects in this one look really believable – horribly so, as this one would probably be a lot easier to watch if it didn't all look so authentic – and equally Roberto Scorza is very good in the lead role. It's a challenging part, no doubt, but the fact he is so committed to it and all the absolute carnage the character puts his body through is extremely commendable.
I think the only thing that helped me ultimately get through this movie was the fact that there are a handful of moments of relief, little glimpses into some kind of dreamworld that serve as something of a breather from the utter self-mutilation Daniel is determined to inflict upon himself. Those scenes are very nicely shot and a good antidote to the bloodstained bathroom in which we claustrophobically find ourselves for most of the film. The ending of the film doesn't come as a huge surprise, as well as containing what to me felt like a slightly unnecessary footnote, but those are minor quibbles really. If you consider yourself a proper gorehound, if you consider yourself someone who can absolutely watch anything without flinching, if you want to say that you have seen one of the most extreme horror movies of recent years, then Sacrifice is surely the film for you.
I would love to tell you that I didn't flinch, but I'd be flat-out lying. In fact, if you had my live reaction to this movie on webcam, it probably would have been absolutely hilarious. I was up and down out of my seat, shouting at the screen, head in my hands, gesticulating... I felt like I absolutely lived every minute of this hour, and that's no bad thing.
RATING: 7.5/10. My finger has only hovered over the stop button twice in the history of Film Gutter – once during Thanatomorphose and once during Vase De Noces. This goes down in history as the third, and god I wanted to stop it. But I managed to plough on regardless and survive this utter endurance test of a movie. And that's all you can do really – come out of the other side in one piece, but probably not unscathed. For all its genuinely shocking content, it generally looks very good and is well-shot, has strong effects, a solid lead performance and enough variety to keep it interesting. But it is not for the faint-hearted out there, or the extreme horror novice.
Brace yourself if you do decide to go in for this one...
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