Director: Kôji Shiraishi
Stars: Kotoha Hiroyama, Hiroaki Kawatsure, Shave igeo Ôsako
Worst. First date. Ever
It’s funny because if Grotesque wasn’t banned in the UK then I don’t think I would have bothered watching it. No one would probably have even heard of Grotesque if the BBFC slapped an 18 certificate on it, but because they refused it has turned into something of a cult hit. It’s a curiosity piece for connoisseurs of carnage but those looking to get truly disturbed are likely to be disappointed. I don’t quite understand the reasons for the ban as Grotesque shows us nothing that we haven’t seen before. In fact, it’s so over-the-top in its ideas and execution that it’s more likely to illicit laughs from viewers more than anything.
If you look at Kôji Shiraishi’s earlier found footage horror, Noroi: The Curse then you’ll find an expertly executed chiller that relies on atmosphere and imagery to produce genuine scares. Grotesque is pretty much the opposite to Noroi. I can’t believe it’s made by the same director as Noroi which is quite possibly the scariest film I have ever experienced. The only thing scary about Grotesque is how bad it is. To sum it up, it’s two people in a room getting tortured by a psychopathic doctor. They were just walking back from their first date and a crazy man bops them on the head and they have to sexually excite him with their will to survive.
It’s a terribly thin plot which only the thick and the psychotic would appreciate. Somehow though it isn’t as boring as it sounds. It’s only 70 minutes long but even still, a film set in one room with only three characters could easily drag, but Grotesque zips along quite merrily. This is the only redeeming quality of the film, it’s never boring. But maybe that’s because I was just waiting to see how far my cringe threshold could take. I won’t spoil anything, but I was thrashing about like a sheep about to get sheared in a scene which involved an eye. I hate eyes and this scene is almost up there with Zombie Flesh Eaters.
It’s just a series of gore scenes really and I have to say that the special effects are very good. The acting was also better than I was expecting, with the doctor being particularly menacing and convincing. It’s also pretty well-made for the most part, although parts did look very amateur. In the end though Grotesque is just a pointless exercise in shock. It ends up being so melodramatic and ridiculous though that it just becomes funny.
Grotesque is worth one watch if you’re curious and a hardened horror nut. Most people will know what their getting themselves into and at least there’s more entertainment value in this than seriously sick stuff like the Guinea Pig and Slaughtered Vomit Dolls films. This one does have a dark sense of humour but the plot is non-existent and the characters are un-investable. The amount of gore and depravity is quite shocking at times but even still it’s almost instantly forgettable as soon as the credits roll.