Horror, Slasher

Grotesque (2009)

0 Comments 16 March 2011

Studio: Tokyo Shock/Media Blasters
Theatrical Release: January 17, 2009
DVD Release: November 23rd, 2010
Director: Kôji Shiraishi

Review by James Klein

I have been staring at my computer screen for a good 15 minutes now wondering what to write or how to start off. After viewing Grotesque, my only reaction is, “Holy shit!” I didn’t want to start off the review like that but no other words fit for this film so I’ll say it again…holy shit! Even if you have a strong stomach and your love for gore films like Hostel and I Spit On Your Grave rank up there on your “best of” lists, you will at least wince watching this movie. All others, you have been warned. If any film deserves to be called “torture porn”, Grotesque owns that title.

At just 75 minutes long, Grotesque is a wild ride of torture and agony depicted on an innocent young couple. The unnamed antagonist is a doctor. What kind of doctor he is (or was) or any of his background is never explained. He has one agenda only: he wants to be “excited”. After capturing a man and a woman by knocking them out, he takes them to his home. Once awakened, he tells them that they will most likely die there but they might be able to go free if they “excite” him. With their mouths gagged, the two victims don’t have much to say and with only a brief flashback, we get very little of their back story. For the remainder of the film, just sit back and watch some of the most gruesome and graphic torture ever put in a movie. If you want a movie that can test your stomach (or for  some, their patience) Grotesque is the one. According to imdb, this film is illegal in the country of Britain.

Obviously, Grotesque is not for everyone and even I found myself wondering why I should continue to watch but yet I was strangely drawn to it. This is the film that Human Centipede didn’t have the balls to be. Grotesque is actually very similar to the little seen 1980’s Guinea Pig series that was shown in Japan. For those not familiar, the Guinea Pig films ran about an hour each and were thought to be actual snuff films. With no story, it was just a vehicle for special effects as it was just one graphic torture of a person per film. Some found it disgusting and offensive, others found it boring and pointless. I agree with the later. However, Grotesque has some merits worth mentioning that puts this above the Guinea Pig films.

Unlike the Guinea Pig movies, the special effects are very good. In fact, they are surprisingly realistic and that’s because director Koji Shiraishi doesn’t hold on to the special effect for too long. He doesn’t cut quickly away but doesn’t leave the camera on it for so long that the effect starts to look fake. I wish the DVD had an interview with the make up artist or just a quick “making of” but the fact that the DVD is bare bones almost makes the film more mysterious. Also, the actor who plays the unnamed doctor is very good. He almost looks like a nerdy version of the hillbilly banjo player from Deliverance. His innocent blank stare is at times chilling.

Grotesque does try to go too far by adding some over the top sound effects that are just too phony sounding. While the mad doctor is picking up some severed fingers from the floor, the sound track blares these slimy and squishy noises as if he’s cutting a fish. It doesn’t go with what we are seeing on screen and I found this distracting, making the film come across as cheap and amateurish. The camera at times shakes too much as well causing the same feeling. The movie tries to feel like a documentary but sometimes the camera shakes so much that it gets bothersome and downright annoying. The finale is also so over the top that it drifts into Peter Jackson/Troma territory and doesn’t fit with the style and tone of the rest of the film.

Not for the timid or easily offended, Grotesque lives up to its name. If you think you can stomach this gory and sexually explicit film, give it a try but don’t bother munching on any food for the next 75 minutes. Hell, don’t bother eating anything after the film. It’s that hardcore.

Special thanks to Donna Lopez at Media Blasters… Check out Media Blasters at Facebook

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