“You would die for her, right?”
The sub genre of so-called “torture porn” has infiltrated the mainstream horror cinema in recent years with the likes of The Hostel & Saw franchises. This kind of movie has, in fact existed for many years in the far east with movies like Lolita Vibrator Torture, Tumbling Doll Of Flesh, Human Pork Chop & the infamous early Guinea Pig movies, particularly Flowers Of Flesh & Blood. Grotesque is the latest in this long line of shockers & has gained a huge amount of notoriety after being banned by The BBFC.
The plot, for what it is, is slim at best. A young couple are kidnapped & find themselves chained up in a basement by a lunatic who can only get his jollies by sexually abusing & violently torturing his victims. The captor begins to play psychological games with the couple as the torture begins. The young man is told that if he endures the torture the woman will stay unharmed, should he fail, the captor will torture & mutilate the woman. There is a slight twist midway through the movie which I won’t spoil here but that is in essence the plot.
Grotesque is directed by Koji Shiraishi who’s stunning debut movie Noroi impressed me no end, a fantastic creepfest which truly shreds your nerves. Yet he is also responsible for the frankly piss poor Carved. So it was with a certain amount of apprehension that I approached Grotesque, having said that once The BBFC banned the movie I was all the more determined to see it. So the burning question is, is it any good? Sadly the answer is no it isn’t. The problems with Grotesque are numerous. Firstly the movie doesn’t really have an audience, it is nowhere near as graphic as either the old Asian movies like the aforementioned Tumbling Doll Of Flesh or Flowers Of Flesh & Blood, nor is it anywhere near graphic as the movies coming out of the underground recently like the August Underground trilogy. Yet it is far stronger than the likes of Saw or Hostel & would send the casual horror fan running from the cinema trying to hold their popcorn down. The lack of plot truly hinders this movie. Flowers Of Flesh & Blood lacks plot, but works as it is a short film that clocks in at 30 odd minutes. Grotesque has a running time of 73 minutes & after 20 minutes it begins to become repetitive. The SFX are impressive enough & there is enough nastiness to keep most gorehounds happy & in that respect the movie is quite watchable. Yet I couldn’t help wanting more as I watched it. The Captor’s motivation seems lazily plotted. Which leads to another problem with Grotesque, its nothing new. This kind of movie has been made so many times & there is nothing in Grotesque to make it stand out. The acting is passable but there is very little in the way of characterisation or character arcs. Sadly all these problems doom Grotesque to be average at best.
Sadly Grotesque just doesn’t live up to its hype. While not a complete disaster, it’s heavily flawed. If you like a film full of graphic dismemberments, genital mutilation & humiliation, then you may find enough in Grotesque to entertain. Personally I like a bit more from a feature film. If you are in the UK, The BBFC don’t want you to see this so you will have to find other methods of seeing this film as I did.