7 Shockingly Unexpected Movie Deaths That Had Us Gasping In Disbelief

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psycho(WARNING: This article contains huge spoilers for each and every film, so if you haven’t seen it, get watching!)

There’s nothing I love more than when a film surprises you. Too often nowadays, films are full of clichés that enable you to predict their every move. They’re too scared to depart from the formula in case they upset the audience or (more often than not) the studio. Some films dare to be different though and rip up the rule book, leaving us all bemused. Below are seven of the most shocking death scenes in cinematic history. These are the scenes that made us jump out of our seat in shock.

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The Holy Mountain (1973)

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Director: Alejandro Jodorowsky

Stars: Alejandro Jodorowsky, Horacio Salinas, Zamira Saunders

Don’t watch whilst intoxicated

The only Alejandro Jodorowsky film I had seen prior to The Holy Mountain was El Topo. I thought El Topo was one of the weirdest films I’d ever seen with a gunslinger traipsing around the desert with a naked child on his back and encountering a corrupt town full of disabled people. Could things get much weirder than that? Yes they bloody could. You know a film is going to a little bit off the wall when it has the line, “Your sacrifice has completed my sanctuary of 1,000 testicles.” El Topo seems as deadly realistic as a Michael Haneke film compared to Alejandro’s The Holy Mountain. I made a list of weird movies a while ago and placed Eraserhead as my number one weirdest. If I were to revise that list, I’d definitely place The Holy Mountain directly behind Eraserhead. It’s that weird.

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Casual moviegoers beware. This is a film funded by John Lenon and Yoko Ono so it isn’t your average Owen Wilson cosy romcom. Within in the first half hour we’re bombarded with bizarre imagery. A man who looks like Jesus walks around a dreamlike town full of frogs in clothes getting blown to smithereens, Jesus statues made out of sponge cake, armless dwarves, sex in the street and eyeless paedophiles. All of this section is told without dialogue bar a few screams and Baldy Man styled gibberish.

I was so taken back at the sheer amount of strangeness. Every single shot has severely strange imagery in it. It’s like a Salvador Dali painting coming to life and the pacing is so fast, especially in the first act. There’s no point trying to read the symbolism because too much happens, too quickly. The best thing to do is just let the film wash over you like some sort of fountain of oddness. Even after reading some ideas on the film I still have no idea what any of it means. However, my guess is that Alejandro isn’t a fan of religion or weapons, but he is a fan of nudity and animals. In fact, I’m pretty sure that they cleared out London zoo to make this film.

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The second act takes a slower pace, but is no less bizarre. The production design in this section is pretty astonishing. I was particularly astounded by the rainbow room which seems like something from another world. A kind of plot does kick in with our Jesus hero meeting a ‘master’ (played by madman Alejandro Jodorowsky himself) who plans to take him and a bunch of increasingly bizarre misfits on a quest to meet the gods. We’re introduced to nine new characters in quick succession. All of them have a detailed backstory involving everything from orgasm machines to testicle collections. This section does get a little repetitive and lengthy but it’s entertaining nonetheless.

The rest of the film follows the oddballs on the quest to meet the gods. Compared to the weirdness overload we’ve been having, this section does feel a little less weird so it’s less memorable. I do have to say though that it acuminates into one of the best endings to a film I’ve ever seen. It’s incredibly jarring and the most postmodern thing I’ve seen since The Cabin in the Woods.

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So what else can I say about The Holy Mountain? As its trailer states, it’s a film which defies conventional plot and criticism. It’s like a piece of art or music. It’s something you have to feel and depending on what you felt, you either like it or you don’t! As a connoisseur of the weird, I really liked it. It definitely leaves an impression and leaves you with an army of images you won’t forget in a hurry. Unfortunately, it’s not quite as hypnotic and dreamlike as it could’ve been thanks (or no thanks) to Alejandro’s directing style. The film feels quite detached and objective. I think the film would’ve been stronger if it was seen more through the eyes of the Jesus character. The reason I love David Lynch films so much is that he takes us on an experience with the characters. Alejandro shoots like we’re just spectators and so part of the experience is lost.

The Holy Mountain is still an extraordinary film though. It’s rich and full of surrealist imagery. It’s almost like the ultimate surreal film with so much impenetrable symbolism crammed in to make your brain melt. Most average moviegoers won’t make it pass the first ten minutes, but then again why would an average moviegoer attain a copy of The Holy Mountain? For the rest of us weirdos, this is unmissable!

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Kidnapped (2010)

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Director: Miguel Ángel Vivas

Stars: Fernando Cayo, Manuela Vellés, Ana Wagener

Rich? Successful? Nice new house? You’re f@#%ed

I love a good home invasion horror film. There’s something compelling about watching innocent people trying to survive an attack on their home. I even love the film’s most people don’t give a toss about like, Darren Lynn Bousman’s Mother’s Day remake. Kidnapped is a home invasion film in the purest sense of the word. It completely strips the whole idea to its bare basics and offers nothing new to the subgenre. However, what it lacks in originality it makes up for in its impressive execution, acting and intense atmosphere.

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The opening to the film is one of the most uncomfortable moments. It follows a bloodied man waking up in the middle of nowhere with a plastic bag tied around his head. He stumbles around a foresty area, struggling to breathe with the bag suffocating him. Watching this made me almost feel as if I was being smothered! The cause of this effect is that it’s filmed entirely in one long take. In fact, you might be surprised to find out after watching that the entire 80 minute film consists of just 12 takes. This is even less than Michael Haneke’s shots in Funny Games!

These long takes create a chillingly realistic atmosphere. The shots aren’t static either, there’s always some claustrophobic sense of movement as the camera follows characters around the house. It’s a technical marvel! I loved the sequence which showed the family moving into their new posh house. There’s some very clichéd dialogue between the mother and teenage daughter about the Mum not letting the daughter go out tonight and the Dad not caring. It’s not imaginative in the slightest, but the fluid camerawork makes it interesting. Once the intruders burst in, it’s jarring and the intensity rises.

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It doesn’t add any new ideas, but thanks to the amazing camerawork and acting it places Kidnapped a cut above the other home invasion movies. I was particularly impressed with the girl’s performance. I expect most people will find her hysteria irritating, but it felt so real and justified. Usually in these types of film, character behaviour is unrealistic or contrived in order to aid with the film’s plot. Everything here is shown in a very realistic way. Put that together with the super-long takes and you’ve got something that feels more like a snuff film than anything else. To normal people this isn’t entertainment, but horror fiends will find it arresting. The use of split-screen also succeeded well in building tension and creating claustrophobia.

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Kidnapped might not have the same innovation as say, You’re Next but it is an exceptionally well-made film. I was gripped throughout and impressed by the shocking ending which pulls the rug from under your feet. I would’ve liked it to have been longer and to create a few more original ideas for itself, but it’s the directing which is its saving grace. It becomes more like an experience. In a sense Kidnapped is like a non-judgmental version of Funny Games. Whereas, Funny Games criticises you for watching it, Kidnapped is more concerned with giving its audience a slice of intense real life. Hollywood should just leave horror to the foreigners.

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10 Modern Horror Movies You Must See Before You Die

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Hopefully it’ll be a long time before you pop your clogs, unless you’re of course a very old person, who’s looking for those little modern gems you might have missed. Well old timer, you’ve come to the right place! A lot of people moan about modern horror. “Oh, wah, wah, wah!” They cry! “Why can’t there be movies like, The Shining or The Exorcist anymore? Instead we get crap remakes like, Shutter and The Grudge.” Well, first of all I actually think The Grudge remake is better than the original and secondly, I’m here to tell you that the quality of horror is not declining with age. Quite the contrary in fact. If you care to look overseas, in particular, you will discover a delightful array of little modern masterpieces just waiting to be discovered by your fair hands. So without further ado, let’s delve into the enchanting world of modern horror, as I proudly present my wonderful list of the top 10 modern horror films to see before you die (so those of you on life support better get seeking these out now!).

10. [REC]

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Those complaining of tiresome remakes had better steer clear of a heavily flawed film called, Quarantine and turn to its almost flawless original, [REC]. This Spanish found footage horror follows a chirpy TV reporter who follows a bunch of fire-fighters into a mysterious apartment complex only to find that it’s inhabited by zombies. [REC] is found footage horror done absolutely right! It blows the likes of The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity out of the water. It’s a genuinely scary and viscerally thrilling film that will have you digging your nails into your polished leather, slapper red, sofa. It also features a heart-stopping climax which you’ll find hard to watch, and not because it’s outrageously gory or anything, but because the level of tension and sheer scariness is through the roof! [REC] is a seriously scary film. P.S. I don’t scare too easily.

9. The Cabin in the Woods

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A lot of people seem to miss the point of Drew Goddard’s The Cabin in the Woods (maybe I’ll do a post on it soon) and I don’t judge you, because it took me an hour or two to actually “get” why The Cabin in the Woods is so mind-numbingly clever. For those of you lucky enough to not have seen it yet, all you need to now plot-wise is that it follows a group of friends who stay in a cabin where terrible things happen. What follows is a madly entertaining and humorously satirical journey which is sure to leave you confused, bewildered and slightly flustered. It’s an incredible tale of the unexpected that seems to get more entertaining with each watch. I also think that it has possibly the greatest ending to a film of all time, just because it’s the last ending you’d ever expect. Heck, even the opening titles are shockingly unexpected! The Cabin in the Woods is a wonderfully crafted slasher film which is both a satirical criticism of, and love letter to our beloved genre.

8.Oldboy

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Laugh and the world laughs with you… Weep and you weep alone. Well if that infamous line is true, then the world won’t be laughing too much after you’re done with Oldboy! There’s little more to say about Oldboy than what’s already been said. Just be sure you seek out this original before Spike Lee’s remake rears its ugly head. For those of you who don’t know, Park Chan-Wook’s masterpiece follows a man who has been imprisoned for 15 years in a strange room that’s like a cross between a prison and hotel, who is then released and has 5 days to track down his vengeful captor. What unfolds is a gripping, stylish and dazzling journey that grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let go until its shocking and absorbing finale which contains possibly the sickest twist ending ever. Oldboy fires on all cylinders, delivering one hell of a memorable film. The directing is also sensational and features the greatest single shot fight scene that I’ve ever seen.

7. I Saw the Devil

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What Korean horror film could possibly be better than Oldboy? Most will probably disagree with me, but I think I Saw the Devil is even greater. Whilst some might not regard Oldboy as a horror film, most would surely see I Saw the Devil as one. It follows a seriously psychotic serial killer who makes the mistake of brutally murdering a policeman’s girlfriend. Suffice to say that the policeman goes on a dazzling quest for revenge you’re not likely to forget in a hurry. I Saw the Devil features some of the greatest directional sequences I’ve ever seen. There’s a jaw-dropping 360 degree taxi kill, an electrifying first encounter and a tension-filled battle at a psycho’s farm house. Oh, and did I forget to mention a hugely emotional and intense finale? Kim-jee Woon’s masterpiece features dizzying action and a gripping plot. This is cinema at its most exciting.

6. Let the Right One In

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Let The Right One In (or LTROI to save finger energy) is the only Swedish film on my list, but if there’s one Swedish film you see, make it this one. LTROI is a beautifully crafted and haunting love story, the twist being that it’s a love story between children and one of them is a vampire. What? I hear you cry. Isn’t that just a Swedish version of Twilight? Well how dare you, I cry back! LTROI spits on Twilight, stamps on it, throws it onto a bed of nails and flushes it down the dirtiest toilet imaginable. Whilst Twilight glamorises the idea of being a vampire, by making everyone young and sexy (or at least they try to be) LTROI shows the true hardship of being a vampire. There are lots of long static shots to evoke a sense of realism which hits the viewer quite hard emotionally. The central love story is also so sweet that you can’t help but find yourself involved. The film also features some very grisly scenes, the peak being an incredibly directed swimming pool shocker! I’m not the biggest vampire fan, but this is something very special indeed.

5. Eden Lake

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Eden Lake is a savage British horror film directed by James Watkins. It follows Kelly Reilly and Michael Fassbender on a romantic weekend at a picturesque lake called (you guessed it!) “Eden Lake”. However, as is the case with all romantic weekends, they get attacked by a psychopathic bunch of young hoodies (or as we call them in England, “Chavs”) who are hell-bent on killing the couple, after Steve (Fassbender) accidently kills the head chav’s dog. Eden Lake is a breath-taking thrill ride which is really about survival. It’s an incredibly tough film to watch as it deals with the disturbing idea of kids killing kids; however it’s most definitely worth the watch. It’s also nice to see the ‘villains’ have some decent character development so that they’re not the usual two-dimensional killing machines. The explicit violence also feels unnervingly raw and real, which adds to the sense of realistic doom. Jenny’s (Reilly) descent into hell is an emotionally draining one which will stay with you for a long time, as will the powerful and disturbing ending.

4. Frontier(s)

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For some reason Frontier(s) seems to get quite a bit of hate. People say that it’s a boring and predictable knock-off of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, however I disagree. Whilst Frontier(s) does contain a deranged cannibal family picking off young adults, it also features a whole host of other delicious elements to create one of the best slashers ever made. Frontier(s) isn’t a rip-off of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Hills Have Eyes and Hostel, it’s better than all three. Frontier(s) is a French gem by underrated director Xavier Gens who also more recently crafted the brilliant and criminally underrated, The Divide. To me Frontier(s) is an intense horror rollercoaster which every horror fan should cherish. It’s not afraid to break past the boundaries of horror like most American horror films. By the end of the film I feel emotionally drained and could almost burst into tears. It’s such an exhausting journey of survival and also features a kick-ass final girl who goes on an exhilarating quest for revenge. The film is also much more intelligent than your average slasher due to the use of complex characters, a political undercurrent and an unforgettable Nazi villain. Just like Eden Lake, the heroine’s descent into hell is incredibly draining and powerful to watch. The film also contains my favourite movie death scene (you’ll know when you see it). I think Frontier(s) is a masterpiece, but you may disagree.

3. Calvaire (The Ordeal)

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We head over to Belgium now with another controversial pick. The Ordeal, like Frontiers, is often wrongly described as a rip-off of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Straw Dogs due to its creepy backwoods setting. However, The Ordeal is really a different kind of beast altogether. I’m confident that I could write a 10 page essay on this atmospheric film, describing why it’s one of the greatest films ever made and enjoy writing it. I don’t want to go too much into plot because experiencing it without knowing anything about it for the first time is a truly memorable experience. All you need to know plot-wise is that it’s about a singer’s car that breaks down in the woods. It’s safe to say that what follows is a genuinely scary (not many films can scare me, but this one did), unsettling and disturbing ride which you’re not likely to forget in a hurry. It’s so jam-packed with memorable scenes and moments that I don’t know why it’s not considered a horror classic. Fabrice Du Welz has crafted something truly brilliant here with a fantastic central performance by Laurent Lucas. What’s truly scary is how it leaves you with so many disturbing questions with no answers. The film is not dissimilar to something David Lynch would create due to its nightmarish atmosphere and dizzying directing. So if you’re in the mood for something different, why not give The Ordeal a try? It’s chillingly ambiguous ending and final line of dialogue will stay with me forever.

2. Martyrs

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My 2 and 1 options are really quite interchangeable as they’re both of such a high quality, yet are so different. Martyrs is either an absolutely love it kind of film, or an absolutely despise it kind of film, it all depends on whether you allow it to affect you or not. Just like The Ordeal and Satan, the less you know about Pascal Laugier’s masterpiece the better. I see it as a sort of serious version of The Cabin in the Woods, in the way that it plays with your expectations of horror films. The film completely changes directions at least four times and two of these times are in the opening 20 minutes. Martyrs is an absolutely gripping and shocking film that is not for the faint-hearted. It’s quite possibly the most disturbing film I’ve seen, and I’ve seen quite a lot of disturbing films in my short and unfulfilled life. It hits you on an extremely deep and emotional level, whilst also delivering some of the most gruesome and disturbing shocks ever committed to film. The final 30 minutes are notoriously difficult to watch, but you’ll be glad that you did. Martyrs is one of those rare torture-porn films which uses violence for a reason and shows it realistically, for what it really is. I could go on about Martyrs all day, but I won’t because I’m sure that you’re all busy people. It also has one of the most heart-breaking scores I’ve heard.

1. Inside

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And we stay in France for my number one pick which is horror’s next big duo’s Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury’s, Inside. The only people who should not see this film are those of a nervous disposition and those who are pregnant. Inside tells the terrifying story of a madly psychotic woman (played with chilling insanity by Beatrice Dalle) who decides to cut open a woman’s pregnant stomach on Christmas Eve. So Inside is obviously the perfect Christmas movie that even your granny can enjoy. So why is it my number one? Because it’s probably the most nail-bitingly intense 80 minutes I’ve ever experience, that’s why! The film builds a hellish atmosphere for the first 30 minutes, or so before the head-spinning carnage ensues with chilling images such as, Beatrice Dalle stealthily standing behind a heavily pregnant Alysson Paradis whilst holding a large pair of scissors, which is sure to chill you to the bone. The film largely takes place within the claustrophobic confines of a house and it’s full of eye watering suspense and an unholy amount of blood to create quite simply one of the greatest horror films of all time. It also has masterfully unsettling electronic music. The haunting final image and score has stayed with me to this day. It’s a masterpiece of terror which you’re likely not to forget in a hurry.

Honourable mentions: Kill List, High Tension, Noroi: The Curse, The Descent, Inland Empire

Be sure to check out these beautiful films immediately! Please tell me your favourite horror films of the modern variety below.

Antibodies (2005)

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Director: Christian Alvart

Stars: Norman Reedus, Christian Von Aster, Andre Hennicke

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You might think that Antibodies is very similar to Silence of the Lambs. I’ve even heard one person describing it as a rip-off of it, but I don’t see that in Antibodies. The only similarities is that the serial-killer (here a revolting paedophile, instead of a harmless cannibal) and the detective feature key scenes across bars. That’s it! Antibodies is more about solving the case of a murdered little girl who the serial killer refuses to admit to killing. Whereas the Silence of the Lambs was more about Jodie Foster on the tail of a whole new serial killer altogether! That being said, of course Antibodies is not as great as the Silence of the Lambs, but it is a super solid serial killer thriller that offers so much more than you’d imagine.

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Antibodies is dangerously under-rated. It seems to me that hardly anyone has seen it and I can’t understand why. I came across it on IMDb by accident and the poster caught my eye with its sinister focal image and clinical background. There’s no reason why Antibodies should not appeal to mass audiences, other than it being in German which lazy people (who have probably not even given subtitled films a chance!) send away. Antibodies looks amazing, it’s made on a very decent budget, has fantastic acting and a wonderfully twisty script. At two hours long Antibodies never sags and I was even kind of sad to see it end because it’s such a gripping experience.

Antibodies grabs you by the throat from the stylish opening where the mad man’s apartment is stormed by police officers. Here we’re bombarded with religious imagery which can often seem a bit pompous, but in Antibodies it serves a very intelligent purpose and only adds to the brilliant screenplay. We’re given striking imagery of a naked psychopath and it could’ve easily leaped out of a Hollywood film with its big-budget feel. However unlike most Hollywood productions it features an edgy screenplay as well as great visuals. It’s no surprise that Hollywood is eating this up! What the screenplay does so well is getting into the minds of its characters. Our detective is no less interesting than the psychopath himself (well maybe slightly, but psychopaths have an unfair advantage of being interesting). We’re let into the detective’s everyday life and we see his strengths and flaws as a characters. No doubt the remake will feature a pure detective, which will completely miss the whole idea of the film. I loved seeing his character change from being cool and collected and then being completely tormented by Gabriel (the psychopath, who is definitely no angel).

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Just like in the Silence of the Lambs, the interrogation scenes feature astonishingly gripping dialogue as we become as entangled in the mystery as much as the detective is. There are also some very interesting uses of camera angles. In fact, the whole film moves at a great pace and has a speedy energy which you wouldn’t expect from a film that lasts two hours. Antibodies never drags and you always care. The film is never afraid to be cruel and brutal in its characterisation and it’s right not to hold back. It’s important to note that people like Gabriel do exist and we can’t just shut the out!

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There are a few jaw-dropping twists at the end which only show off the brilliant nature of the screenplay. There are some very intense sequences that had me on the edge of my seat. The character of the detective is also never ignored and he rightly remains central to the story as we see him being led into temptation amongst other things. Antibodies is a thrilling experience and a high-class serial killer thriller. It certainly has the dark elements of horror like the Silence of the Lambs has, yet it adds a brilliant spin on the sub-genre that should have you on the edge of your seat. This is top-notch entertainment with a heart at the centre of it. See it before Hollywood squashes it!

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The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence)

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Director: Tom Six

Stars: Lawrence R Harvey, Ashlyn Yennie, various awful unknown hopefuls

Good, solid family entertainment

Let me start off by saying that I actually did really like the first one. I thought it was an original, twisted idea that was really well executed. I loved Dieter Laser as the mad scientist, and the film had emotion and suspense. It wasn’t just trying to shock (there’s actually very little gore in it at all) it was trying to take you on an experience and I felt quite drained afterwards. I do think it’s a good film. I do not think that its sequel is a good film. In fact I think it’s one of the worst films I’ve seen and is an insult to us horror hounds and fans of the first film.

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Of course I had heard a lot about this film before seeing it. It was the most disturbing film ever and the most twisted, apparently. Why would anyone want to see that? You might ask yourselves, and it’s a good question. I was expecting The Human Centipede II to be bad, but I suppose curiosity got the better of me, and as I said, I did really like the first one. To be quite honest with you I don’t think it’s as disturbing as everyone makes out. The whole film is completely ridiculous and it’s quite obvious that Tom Six is trying to shock the audience and in the end it just feels desperate and tedious.

I must admit that I do like the idea of the first film being completely medically accurate and the second film not, even though it is supposedly set in reality. Lawrence R Harvey is also very good as our cuddly hero, Martin. I believed that he was insane and he really does put his all into the role. It’s just too bad that the role is incredibly weak. Martin says nothing, instantly making it very difficult for the audience to give one iota about the man. I’m also not keen on the message that most horror fans are all perverted lunatics.

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The majority of the film is incredibly tedious and not very shocking. The first hour is made up of Martin whacking people on the head with a crowbar and taking them to an abandoned warehouse. What I found much more interesting was Martin’s background and home life, even if the woman playing his Mum (and every other actor) couldn’t act for a toffee apple. However Tom Six completely blows his opportunities to exploit this and is clearly more interested in trying to shock. However, the film only really gets shocking in the last half hour or so which is when Martin starts creating the centipede.

I should point out that I saw the version which the BBFC patronisingly cut, so I was thankfully saved from seeing barbwire and an accelerator pedal. The film gets very nasty towards the end, but it’s all done in a rather boring and desperate way. There’s only so much stapling and knee-slicing you can see until it becomes tiresome and just plain mean-spirited. Seeing the actual centipede isn’t that shocking either because we’ve seen it all before! The poo scene (which Tom Six calls the highlight) is when the film just tries too hard to be noticed.

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The Human Centipede II is the film equivalent of Jonah from Summer Heights High. It’s the obnoxious kid at the back of the class trying to piss off the teacher. But what happens with all these kids? They just get kicked out the classroom and ignored. Films like this give horror a bad name. Horror isn’t about gore and shocking scenes, it’s supposed to have a point and a story. The story here is complete tripe and stripped of any entertainment value. It also fails in being the most disturbing film ever. I find Martyrs much more disturbing, but that could also be because Martyrs is a profound and moving experience with a point.

I shall look forward to the third instalment like a fly looks forward to the next swatter.

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Lilya 4-Ever (2002)

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Director: Lukas Moodysson

Stars: Oksana Akinshina, Artyom Bogucharskiy, Pavel Ponomaryov

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Those who know me well will know that depressing cinema is my kind of thing. Any film that can take you on a powerful and draining experience is a film well worth seeing in my book, so when I heard about how gruelling Lukas Moodysson’s third feature, Lilya 4-Ever, was I just had to seek it out. Whilst I can understand why most people would find it completely bemusing as to why someone would want to watch a film where the protagonist is put through hell, this is the kind of film I really admire when done right. Lilya 4-Ever is done right, and whilst it’s by no means an easy watch, it’s an important one which everyone should make time to see.

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The film opens to Rammstein, a heavy metal German rock band used more recently in Lars von Trier’s latest near-masterpiece, Nymphomaniac. They play over a horrendous and ominous image of our hero, Lilya, running from something and covered in bruises. The entire film is a flashback which leads up to this emotive image, and it’s an image which assured me that this was going to be a film to remember.

Lilya 4-Ever opens with a sense of hope and optimism with Lilya looking forward to going to start a new life in America and leaving her Russian slum. However, this is quickly crushed within the first 10 minutes. Her mother abandons her and leaves her at the mercy of her hard-hearted Aunt who offers as little support as possible. Things go from bad to worse and eventually end up at the worst. Lukas does a wonderful job at immersing the audience in the world of Lilya. The raw handheld directing is reminiscent of our own cuddly pessimist, Lars Von Trier.

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In fact, Lilya 4-Ever would’ve made a welcome replacement for The Idiots in Lars’ golden hearts trilogy. The film is very much like Dancer in the Dark and Breaking the Waves in that it takes a likable and generally kind-hearted female and then the world mercilessly rips her apart. It’s about as far away from Hollywood as you can get, but unfortunately this is the world we’re living in. Someone, somewhere in the world is having a life like Lilya and Moodysson does a damn convincing job at portraying this.

The authenticity of the film isn’t least helped by 15 year-old Oksana Akinshina’s stellar performance. I believed her in every frame and sometimes she just broke my heart. It was so nice to see her in those rare moments where she’s smiling and laughing, and trying to make the most out of her dreadful situation. The moments when she’s at her lowest are the most sould-crushing, and Oksana often conveys more emotion in just one heart-breaking expression than most actors manage to do in a career.

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Lilya 4-Ever is an experience that is hard to forget. It didn’t quite make me cry, but I’m not ashamed to admit that I welled up in more than one place. What makes the film even more crushing to watch is that you know that it’s completely true and that this stuff has happened and is happening to people across the world. It’s not a film you instantly forget the next day, and to me that’s the mark of a truly great film. The ending is beautifully done and is powerful enough to move mountains. As I said before, Lilya isn’t an easy film to watch, but very much like the equally distressing 12 Years a Slave, it has such an important message that it needs to be seen by everyone.

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