Director: Koji Shiraishi
Cast: Tsugumi Nagasawa, Hiroaki Kawatsure, Shigeo Osako
Walking home from their first date together, a smitten young couple is attacked and abducted by a sadistic assailant. When they awake, they find themselves bound in a dark, menacing basement. Immediately, they are savagely tortured by their captor in some of the most ruthless, inhumane means ever committed to film.
Grotesque is perhaps the most mean-spirited and cruel film to be released in quite sometime. This declaration alone will be enough to cause some horror fans to rush to put the film into their Netflix que or order their copy from their favorite online merchant. Certainly this is understandable, as most wildly successful films have garnered their statuses based on outlandish claims such as being "the scariest film since The Exorcist" or "Will make Saw look like a pre-school picnic." In fact, Grotesque already has ignited much interest after it was rejected for release by the BBFC. However, this is a rare occasion when an outlandish claim is actually true. This film goes hard and is a no-holds-bar exercise in extreme torture and gore, with very little substance beyond that. Comparisons to Saw and Hostel are inevitable, but those two films possess something that Grotesque severely lacks: a purpose. Saw has the intricate, well thought out plot that reveals a reasonable purpose for what is unfolding. Hostel attempts to play with a Richard Connell-esque theme of what exactly a human will do when he becomes bored with the mundane and desire a significantly more complicated and difficult challenge. Grotesque has no real purpose and is certainly a paramount example of gore and torture solely for shock value; the two victims are subjected to stabbings, eye slashings, dismemberment with a chainsaw, disembowelment, genital mutilation and much more, all without the flinch of the camera. This truly makes up 99% of the film's plot. Even during the climax, when an opportunity for at least some explanation or purpose arises, it's squandered for even more opportunities to illustrate gore and brutality. In the end, there is absolutely no purpose or meaning for the film.
Still, this isn't saying that the film is not well done, and this is where the assigning of a grade is tricky. On one hand, the film is terrible exploitative garbage that does nothing but give reason to criticize the genre with any number of complaints, but on the other hand it is a well-acted, competently directed film with incredible special effects and technical aspects. When reviewing a film that should count for something. There have been countless reviews that have slaughtered a film simply because the reviewer did not like what was being presented, whether it be a graphic rape or "exploitation" of a specific group without considering the actually technical aspects of the films. Truth be told, a film is suppose to cause the viewer to feel some sort of emotion, whether it is sadness, inspiration, happiness, or in this case, disgust. So, in a sense, it is successful and deserves at least some minor accolades. Simply put, it is a absolutely pointless, offensive film that, at the risk of sounding contradictory, is one of the most emotionally jarring, affective films to be released in quite sometime and is well made. Trust that you will feel several things while watching this film; in that sense it succeeds exceptionally.
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