LANDMINE GOES CLICK (2015) Dir. Levan Bakhia, Georgia, 110 mins
It’s always a pleasure to head to new shores here at Film Gutter – one of the great delights of the series is that it enables you to watch work from all over the world, and today it’s off to Eastern Europe and a jaunt to Georgia. I’ve seen a couple of Russian films before, which have definitely pushed boundaries aplenty, so I was pretty excited for the journey. This is Landmine Goes Click, a movie I’d heard about long before release and loved the look of the trailer for.
The story follows three American tourists travelling around the Georgian countryside – engaged couple Daniel and Alicia, and their mutual friend Chris. However it’s quickly apparent that things aren’t entirely happy, as we discover Alicia has slept with Chris as well. And you can rest assured that things are going to get substantially worse, as when during a group photo Chris accidentally places his foot onto a landmine. Rooted to the spot, unable to move for fear of setting the device off, Daniel reveals this was an elaborate revenge on them both for what they have done, and he duly scampers off into the sunset and leaves them there to sort the mess out by themselves.
That probably sounds like a big twist, but all of that comes in the first twenty minutes, so that won’t spoil the viewing experience at all. What follows from there is a mirrored kind of madness, filled with plenty of psychological abuse and a healthy dose of physical and sexual violence to boot. When Chris and Alicia are stumbled upon by Ilya, there is immediate tension as his Rottweiler goes barking at Chris and they have to explain the whole situation to them. Unfortunately it’s something that the depraved Ilya is keen to make the most of, gradually cranking up the psychological warfare on the pair. Alicia suffers the indignity of having to remove her underwear, which Ilya throws away before telling her to fetch them ‘like a dog’. Then he makes her undress before finally forcing himself upon her in a dark and disturbing rape scene, which Chris is forced to watch. But when he finally gets hold of Ilya’s gun he has a way to end the nightmare, which backfires on him spectacularly as his shot goes astray...
Then we cut to our second half, which very much brings things around with Chris’s revenge on Ilya. He inveigles his way into their house with a lost and charming tourist act, ingratiating himself with Ilya’s mother and daughter, but when Ilya gets home he ideally wants Chris to leave and lapses into a dark mood. Of course he can’t say that he knows him or where from, and when Chris leaves he tells him to ‘leave his family out of it’. Of course Chris has no such intention, and proceeds to kill Ilya’s dog before returning him to subject Ilya and his family to a nightmare ordeal similar to that which he and Alicia went through. It also has a genuinely impactful finale, a moment in cinema that I feel will stick with me forever – no mean achievement given some of the previous material we’ve watched.
It’s been an interesting experience reviewing this one, because when I watched I wasn’t that impressed with this one. I thought it was decent, sure, partly held back by some of the action being a bit slow in the initial running. And though I stand by the thought that this movie could have been improved by trimming, what did surprise me is just how much this film has stayed with me and been turning around in my mind ever since. When the movie hits its dark emotional peaks, it’s very good, and the second half in particular lifts it up to a new level for me. The movie couldn’t have had a better central conceit than that of the landmine – when a landmine goes off, the damage done is not only to one person but to all sorts of people around them. And the same goes for the two brutal attacks that make up the majority of this movie – it’s strong stuff, well-acted on the whole and definitely not for the faint of heart. RATING: 9/10. As I hinted at earlier, the rating for this one has gone up more and more as I’ve thought about it – and often the sign of a great film is just how much I wind up thinking about it. It’s tense, it’s full on and it has some genuinely shocking and powerful moments. The only thing keeping this one back from true top marks is the lingering feeling that a bit of a cut here and there could have helped tauten this one even more – but this one has certainly been a haunting experience, so it’s a very fine 9/10.
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Film Gutter Volume 1 is the full collection of 2015 reviews and interviews from Ginger Nuts of Horror's popular Film Gutter series, looking at some of the most bizarre, grotesque and disturbing horror features ever made. With over 50 movie reviews plus interviews with directors and actors including Tom Six, Dieter Laser, Matthew A Brown Jimmy Weber and Phil Stevens. Film Gutter Volume 1 also takes in a host of exclusive content, including the much-requested 'most disturbing movies' list!