Title: Grotesque (unrated)
Rating: 3/5
Genre: Splatter Horror
Language: Japanese

Banned outright by the BBFC, whilst it doesn’t happen often they occasionally come across a film they deem too diabolical to be viewed by anyone for fears of actual psychological damage. If they had just rated the damn thing nobody would have heard of it, but instead I’m compelled to watch what is apparently so hazardous for my mental health and judge it for myself. Given bad ratings galore by others, claiming the lack of a ‘point’ to the film, I can’t see how this has less of a point to make than your average action film. Tired of mindless explosions and muscular guys firing blanks? Why not try a new kind of violence; one where people actually bleed.

Dealing with the plot, I’m half tempted to say there is none. But as we all know you can’t have a film without some form of a plot, so instead I’ll point out that this makes every attempt to minimise any interference such an interruption might provide. You should make no mistake about precisely what this film is about; two people getting tortured in a room. This really is it. At best you could extrapolate some pseudo-philosophical jargon about how it’s the insight into a modern sadistic man, selfishly torturing for his own amusement, or for his own perverse pleasures, but even that would be reading too much into it. Whilst I have no question the torturer is getting a kick out of it, that hardly constitutes a plot.

In terms of cinematography, it felt contrived between modern western styles of film-making and the ‘guinea-pig’ ultra-realism; taking the raw and robust hand-held camera work (though was done well, kept steady enough to happily phase into the background) that rarely shies away from the gore, lending the almost clinical feel to it, with the more – dare I say ‘humourous’ – ‘Hostel’ type cinematography; with plenty of bodily fluids and severed body parts, often done in an over-the-top manner. Excessively gory to become more parody than with a realistic focus, despite the occasional over-reliance on CGI (when coupled with a low budget, it doesn’t yield the best results) the effects were visually effective. Noticeably fake a mile off (a fact which the fairly bad sound effects did little to help with), but like the famous scene from scanners, remains excessive in a way that’s still entertaining to watch.

There was a notable presence of classical music; the main protagonist a seemingly ordinary person outside of this fetish, lending a nice subtle unpredictability to what he’s going to do to them, a perverse pleasure in their discomfort and even a bittersweet ending.[1] The film isn’t without it’s idea’s either; the general dismemberment and ‘shocking’ scenes taken to a whole new level in the final test that would have the writers of ‘Saw’ kicking themselves,[2] and the manner in which the film ended had me laughing out loud[3] – something which most comedies end up failing at. I was looking to be entertained, and for 73 minutes this succeeded in doing just that; I was amused, enthralled and even at one point slightly aroused, but this really is a film for a very niche crowd. This is for those that wish ‘Hostel’ didn’t cut out the torture scenes, or that ‘Saw’ would just skip the pseudo-intellectual crap and character introductions and just show us some ultra-violence. It isn’t brilliant, but it isn’t all that bad either.

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