Friday, August 8, 2008

The horror....the horror

Violence in movies is not new. I am a huge fan of horror films, I own plenty of them and I throughly enjoy them. I have however noticed a trend occurring in Hollywood that is starting to repulse me and leave me questioning where the horror film industry is going. I am talking about the so called GorePorn. The likes of Hostel, Wolf Creek, Chaos and the new Uwe Boll movie Seed.

What is the purpose of these movies?

When I saw Hostel at the cinema I was disgusted, you may claim that this was the intent of the director, and you would be somewhat correct in that assumption. This movie takes gore to a whole new level and not one I feel it should be proud of, Eli Roth explains " I wanted to make a Takashi Miike-style horror film, like 'Audition.'" Well, I own Audition, it is a very uncomfortable film to watch, but it has style and merit and a very clear purpose (this is despite Miike vehemently denying that Audition is meant as social criticism. He denies the existence of any kind of artistic pretense in any of his films) The fact that the movie can be interpreted as a social
criticism in itself gives the movie merit. Hostel has no other value than to state quite clearly that it is a horror film purely created to be as disgusting as possible.

I also had the misfortune of sitting through Wolf Creek at the cinema. I am Australian, This film is Australian, it also claims to be based on "Real Events". Well, the events in question are the Ivan Milat Backpacker Murders. To claim the film is based on these events does a diservice to
all of the families and victims of those murdered by Milat, not least because the moniker is there to create further "buzz". I have never walked out of a movie, but this is one film where I constantly wish I had. Wolf Creek has no purpose, the images on screen are disgusting and have no merit to them whatsoever. They are unjustified and simply potrayed because the director can. Wolf Creek is a celebration of pain and cruelty and one that should be avoided.

What happened to the days of intelligent horror films, movies with purpose? I appreciate graphic violence and so called exploitation films, many of them are great. Last House on the Left is a movie that changed me forever. It was a sick, violent and agonizing film to watch, but it was so well crafted and keeps you under unbearable tension for its entire duration. The film was banned in many country's and received cuts in all, but the difference between this film and the current round of so called exploitation films is the non-glorification of violence. Not one scene in Last House of the Left could be considered titillating or thrilling. This is evil plain and simple and it is a demonstration of the violence that people are willing to inflict on one another. Last House on the Left has a purpose, it shows humanity being stripped away; first the humanity of the murderers for the violence inflicted on the girls, then of the parents who seek revenge for it. This gives context and a "why" factor to the violence we are being shown.

Movies like Hostel and Wolf Creek do not share this view, they simply aim for violent thrills and gore without justification or provocation. The amount of money that gets spent (read wasted) on films like this could be better spent helping the countless victims of violent crime that will eventuate thanks to the glorification of violence that these films represent....of course whether or not violence in the cinema affects violence in society is an entirely different argument.