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Thursday, May 11, 2006


Similarly to other nations, the Australian film industry is really good at producing a lot of shitty films that no-one goes to see.
Occasionally they'll produce a terrific film that lots of people go and see.
Last night I watched a film called Wolf Creek - an Australian film that is supposed to be a horror movie.
This film doesn't really fit into either category.
It's full of good film making and it's shot beautifully and was a great success, but it's the most repulsive film I can think of.
Anyone who reads this crappy blog regularly will be aware that I am no prude - hell, I love blood and guts horror films (anyone seen Peter Jacksons early zombie movies? They are among my favourites).
And I strongly believe that when you are creating images and you are commenting on something important then doing it in a violent visceral way can be entirely appropriate.
But the horror in this film is not the horror of blood and guts.
It's not the horror of the dark, or the unknown or monsters.
There's not even the thrill that I think is supposed to come from a horror movie.
It's the horror of torture and human suffering.
Now then - this film is about three kids who are picked up in outback Australia by a psychotic who then tortures them and does all sorts of dreadful things to them (I have no idea what happens in the end because we turned it off).
This is not a movie about civil war, or about white mans treatment of aborigines, or even a spy movie.
This is a film about torture and upset with no context beyond entertainment.
I'm sure the film makers think they are very clever - to be sure they play with some of the horror conventions but that hardly takes an expert.
And I'm sure they are pleased with the fact that they've made a film that has has such a strong reaction - you'd have to be pretty stoic to not be affected.
But again - that's all the film is about - a reaction.
And a reaction to not one single solitary important thing.
I felt sick afterwards and angry that talented people had made such repulsive stuff.
I watched it with 2 good friends and as mentioned we turned it off before the end.
And I am proud of us that we did.
We did not turn it off because we were so frightened that we couldn't cope anymore, we turned it off because we are good people who do not think the suffering of innocent people is something that should be trivialised in this way.

And after that I'll mention that today is my last day at work!


J.a.G. said...

I've heard Hostel is very similar (along the gratuitous torture vein) and that a few people threw up at the screenings.

Oscar Grillo said...

Cinema is taken far more seriously than it deserves.

Congratulations on your liberation...You had nothing to loose but your chains.

Long ago a friend of mine drew a cartoon of two street sweepers and one says to the other: "The problem with working is that it doesn't leave you enough time to make money"

limbolo said...

Some years ago I saw John Walters -director of PINK FLAMINGOS, MONDO TRASHO and such - talking about a film-making project in the Baltimore prisons that he supervised. There were to be little movies made by the hardcore inmates - rapists, murderers - you name it. Walters asked them to take a few days, think it over and come up with some ideas. Eventually the desperadoes offered a selection of anodyne themes: lost puppies, springtime in the rockies etc. He told them to fuck off back to their cells and come back with what was really on their minds: mayhem, kidnap, torture and sexual violence. The idea being that if you put it into your art you might need less of it in your life. Did he help to set a few serial killers back on the road to 'normality' ?.... I don't know. But I think he had a point.
I'll look out for WOLF CREEK. I may not go to see it, but I'd like to know if the bad guy gets his come-uppance. Or are they holding that back for the sequel? What I am driving at is this: The fictional villain in this kind of movie is a contemporary edition of an age-old monster in the human psyche - the victim/scapegoat upon whom we load every vileness and depravity and then send to oblivion in order to restore peace and harmony in human affairs. Those who killed Christ with the utmost cruelty believed that he deserved every atom of his suffering.
Should movies like this be censored? Should we watch more of them? Would we be better for it?

Elliot said...

Oscar - It takes a lot of people these days to get together and make a movie.
This movie is essentially an hour and half of torturing puppies.
What does it say that so many people got together and made it, I wonder?
I'm prepared to get wound up over that.

Neil - The villian of the piece does in fact survive, under cynical and smug circumstances.
As for censorship - no I don't think it should be censored.
But as I mention above, I'm not sure what it says about the people who made it.
This is not an important film (indeed it's not even a great film deserving of such scrutiny).
There is no commentary made about anything I can detect.
I'm not suggesting that, inmate style, films should be about lost puppies and weekends away in the mountains, but I would argue that responsible film makers should be putting this kind of visceral experience to some use other than mid level titilation.

Oscar Grillo said...

I meant to say, cinema sucks. Since the only ticket paying public are Californian teenagers, the industry only make films for "infradotados" (Subnormals)...For a while now I decided to skip new releases...I am currently watching "Fantomas" (Louis Feuillade, 1913) and get more satisfaction from it than watching the complete filmography of John Woo (Or anybody you care to name)

Boris Hiestand said...

I promise you my hairy friend, DECREPIT JOE will not be like this!

Elliot said...

I'm surprised you're not into Hong Kong action flicks mate!

Boris - how are you arse farmer?
I'll believe that when I see it!

Boris Hiestand said...

I'm all good there, cheggnut retriever, thank's!
so, you're no longer working for the man eh. What's next? Are you off soon or taking a holiday first?

Elliot said...

I'm in Tassie for another 2 weeks, then back home to Melbourne for 3 and then heading off to the US before heading to London.

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