LA Weekly defends torture porn as....not torture porn
Luke Thompson makes some pretty good points about Roth's films, and his commentary that there is nothing worse in Captivity than people regularly subject themselves to in Fear Factor is pretty dead-on (HAHAH, ROTF...fuck it) but it still is missing a key factor: Saw SUCKS. A lot of these movies SUCK. NOT because they are too "gruesome" or betray some sort of depraved American bloodlust, but because they have cheap plot twists that are totally incoherent and unnecessary, wooden acting supported by stupid dialogue (not even the kind of faux-campy wooden acting and bad dialogue that Rob Zombie employs, or they sort of meta-winked at during Grindhouse, but like.....really, try watching Cary Elwes in Saw. Or Lindsay Lohan in I Know Who Killed Me. I dare you not to laugh) while justifying themselves with a ridiculously large budget and the knowledge that everyone is going to focus on the more debatable aspects of the film- the shock value- rather than whether or not is was well executed.
I'm sorry, but here- we got to hand it to those damn Asians. Old Boy was graphic and involved psychological and physical torture beyond anything in Se7en, but was also brilliant, funny, well-scripted, and had a plot twist that actually made sense. Audition, and well, all Miike films- I'm not the biggest fan, for the same reason I didn't like Suicide Club- I just didn't "get it". Not in the abstract Lynchian way, but more like there is something TOO be gotten, but it just went over my head. That however, doesn't mean they were bad movies, just that I think there is a culture bridge in storytelling techniques.
And just for the record, I LIKED I know who Killed Me. Yea it took some risks that didn't pay off- the color schemes, the EXTREMELY graphic nature of the film that wasn't really advertised (but that's the marketing teams fault, not the films), the poor acting- yet despite all this there was something a little Depalma about it, a little....dare I say it? D'argento. All it needed was a Goblin soundtrack and maybe a different lead. I really liked the sort of fairy-tale ending it delved into there.
And hell, even if it was a stretch, the plot at least was linear and coherent.
However, the main comment I had issue with was Thompson trying to redefine "torture":
Dictionary.com defines torture principally as “the act of inflicting excruciating pain, as punishment or revenge, as a means of getting a confession or information, or for sheer cruelty.” By that standard, pretty much every action or horror movie in cinematic history contains “torture.” As does every Three Stooges short.
Ironically, by that same standard, the Saw movies contain less torture than most horror movies, in that most of the excruciating pain experienced by the characters is self-inflicted. John “Jigsaw” Kramer, the bogeyman of the series, places his victims in death traps that are usually fast-acting and can only be stopped by an act of self-mutilation or the murder of another human being. These are definitely nasty things to do to someone, but Jigsaw does them out of a deranged kind of philanthropy — he believes those who survive will be stronger people for it — as opposed to the prolonged information-getting we usually associate with torture today.
So basically....if your torturing someone for the right reasons...its not torture? Or no, Im sorry- if you force someone (by threat of death) to dismember themselves, thats not both physical AND most likely, a WORSE form of mental torture? Or no wait, its the idea that the pain isn't "prolonged". Right, that's why Saw 2 took place with just ONE group of people getting slowly poisoned to death inside of a giant house in which (it was implied in the film time) went on for at least 24 hours? Not to mention the audience position- the movie was like 90 minutes. That's pretty excruciating.
Sure. And Hostel is really a commentary on the Iraq War. Sorry Eli, Michael Moore you are not. Yes, you might have made some small commentary on how torturing someone is supposed to make you feel like a man but instead makes you crazy....but you did this by glorifying the process and making it a spectacle. Yes, you did. If you didn't want it to be associated with an erotic subtext, you wouldn't have made the film rotate around these money shots:
And for the record, Im not saying Hostel 2 was sexist (didn't see either of the hostel films, actually); the first one was about guys getting their shit dismembered, why shouldnt the second one be about chicks? Im just saying.....this has about as much to do with Guantanamo bay as Paris Hilton does with Patty Hearst, just because they both went to jail. See what I'm saying?
And, before it sounds like Im bashing eli roth, I hope you guys know that, besides The Cube, Cabin Fever is like my favorite thriller EVER.