Where the Dead Go to Die (2012)

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Director: Jimmy ScreamerClauz

Stars: Ruby Larocca, Brandon Slagle, Joey Smack

This ain’t Pixar folks

This review is going to be subjective because I’m not like most people who get scared by horror films like The Exorcist or The Shining. I get scared by strange things. Things that bury themselves into your psyche and fester for a long time. That’s why I’m such a fan of David Lynch’s surreal films and why (what most people would describe as) an unwatchable mess like Inland Empire is a frightening masterpiece to me. Similarly, some people find videos of glitches from The Sims hilarious, whereas I find them chilling with those strange and nightmarish impossible contortions. Where the Dead Go to Die is like one big Sims glitch.


Many will see it as an atrociously animated and badly voice acted mess, and they wouldn’t be wrong. This has to be the worst animation ever committed to film. In fact, it looks as though it was made on The Sims with a few disturbing expansion packs which allow your sims to woohoo with animals and travel to a kaleidoscopic hell. This will make the film borderline unwatchable for some people, but for me it made it all the more horrifying. Likewise, a little boy being voiced by a man mimicking a screechy child’s voice is much more frightening to me than being voiced by an actual child. It’s extremely uncomfortable as it feels like we’re watching something Satanic that shouldn’t be watched.

Where the Dead Go to Die has to be one of the most disturbing films I have ever seen and I don’t get too disturbed easily either. This film is up there with Salo, Martyrs and all he rest. If it was a live action production then I’m pretty sure that the anonymous director, who goes by Jimmy ScreamerClauz, would be arrested. Whilst the animation is beyond poor, the ideas are still there and these ideas are seriously messed up. I don’t want to spoil it for people who want to experience this mind fudge, but there are some depraved ideas involving children which are explored explicitly in this film. They may only look like blobs, but that didn’t make it any less upsetting to watch, for me at least. Especially combined with the horrifying musical score in the background.


I feel like I should delve into the story a little bit. Where the Dead Go to Die is an anthology film which follows three characters living in the same neighbourhood (I think) who all come in contact with a demonic dog. The first segment tells the story of a boy who is convinced by the dog to kill his mother’s unborn child as it’s the antichrist. This story certainly gives you a taste of things to come. It’s just utter madness with some terribly disturbing ideas and images thrown in. The second story kind of lost me a bit, but it concerns a man who steals people’s memories after killing them. It’s the weakest story and is mainly an excuse to go overboard on the hellish, surreal imagery. The last story is the strongest and most disturbing. It concerns a neglected boy with his dead Siamese twin’s head stuck to the side of his face, who falls in love with a little girl. Needless to say, she harbours some very dark secrets at home.

You can try and think about the absolute sickest thing in the world and this film will show you worse. I can’t decide whether I liked it or not. You could argue that it’s a film designed to shock you for the sake of it, but there is actually a story here (several actually) and I’d argue that this Jimmy ScreamerClauz bloke actually manages to respectively weave the story with the moments of depravity. This isn’t like August Underground where it’s just one sick pointless scene trying to outdo the other. The disturbing themes do actually have something to do with the surreal story, particularly in the last segment. There’s a moment where I was almost moved to tears, just due to the intensity of the concept presented on screen. The relentless bleakness also started to get to me after a while.


Where the Dead Go to Die is not a good film on a technical level, but it’s unlike anything I have ever seen. There’s no denying that it’s innovative, whether that’s in a good way or not. It does get bogged down in its moments of relentless surreal glitchy imagery, but when it focuses, I found myself strangely captivated. On one hand I find the film trashy and stupid but on the other I find it startling and original. It’s an endlessly dark, depraved and upsetting film. It disturbed me, horrified me and affected me both emotionally and physically. It’s a film which I won’t ever forget, and that has to be worth something doesn’t it?

four-out-of-ten

 

Grotesque (2009)

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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.

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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.

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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.

two-out-of-ten

 

Megan Is Missing (2011)

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Director: Michael Goi

Stars: Amber Perkins, Rachel Quinn, Dean Waite

Megan isn’t the only thing that’s missing

Every self-respecting weird person who’s looking to get disturbed has heard of Megan Is Missing. The only reason I sought out the film is because I’d read how so many people find it horrendously disturbing. If you hop on to the IMDb message boards (always a good place to find opinions by level-headed people) then you’ll find a lot of posts by self-confessed horror movie addicts saying how they found the last twenty minutes of Megan Is Missing to be the most haunting thing they’ve ever seen in a horror film which is quite a big statement! I’m also one of those people who don’t really find many films disturbing. The Human Centipede 2 didn’t particularly bother me and I managed to watch Salo alone in the dark pretty comfortably (ish) so I’m always on the lookout for films that might actually give me sleepless nights.

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Megan Is Missing is atrocious. Let’s get that out the way first, it is absolutely embarrassingly bad. As soon as it started my eyes widened in terror at the beyond horrendous acting from the two main characters in the film, Megan and Amy. Both of them can’t act for a toffee apple and that’s being kind about them! Megan’s wooden bedpost is probably the best actor in the whole film and steals the show. Although, let’s face it there really isn’t much of a show to steal. It presents itself as a true story, but this is impossible to take seriously thanks to the stilted acting and forced chemistry between Megan and Amy.

As soon as the film starts we’re treated to dialogue from Amy which goes something like, “We’re filming on my expensive new video camera, Daddy loves me.” To which Megan replies, “My Daddy loves me too, slut” and we get a painfully wooden, “Bitch!” Back from Amy. Such Shakespearean dialogue continues throughout the film and it’s probably supposed to sound like natural 14 year-old girl banter, but the actors deliver their lines like their reading them from the cameraman holding up a cardboard sign. It’s just a total cringe-fest and the characters couldn’t get any more stereotypical or two dimensional. We’ve got Megan the confident, popular school bike and Amy the unpopular, angelic prude.

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There is an attempt to build up characters but it just ends up resulting in ridiculous clichés. At one point I even predicted in my head exactly what Megan was going to say as she breaks down awkwardly on camera about her dysfunctional upbringing. We also get treated to a needlessly long monologue from Megan about her first sexual experience which just ends up sounding like dialogue from a porn film. I also liked the director’s idea of a teen house party complete with torch lights and girls randomly jumping up and down going “woo!”

It’s a found footage film so it’s essential for it to have a realistic atmosphere, which it fails at miserably. It does make for unintentionally hilarious viewing though. It’s about a girl talking to a randomer over the Internet and ending up missing (surprise, surprise) but the film is extremely heavy-handed with these themes. It almost feels like a student film at times, especially when they try to create news footage. I actually laughed out loud at one point where they do a re-construction of the kidnapping. I also loved the part where the newsreader teases the next story about a cocker spaniel driving a car through a shop window! I’m not kidding, the filmmakers should’ve made a film based on that idea.

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Basically, the first hour of Megan Is Missing is an hilarious example of how not to make a film. But then the next 20 minutes arrive and everything changes. It’s difficult to talk about the last 20 minutes without giving away big plot twists, but I can say that it did actually disturb me. The acting gets a little more convincing (big stress on ‘little’) and the film becomes relentlessly terrifying. The unintentional funniness disappears and we’re presented with a genuinely chilling atmosphere of horror and a sobering sense of realism. Some people say that it’s like some sort of indulgent fetish thing for the director but I think it’s actually done in a way that’s not too exploitative or gratuitous. It’s actually a well-made bit of harrowing horror.

So, Megan Is Missing is a film of two halves and both halves are horrendous for different reasons. The first three quarters have no redeeming qualities, whereas the last quarter has the power to genuinely shock and unsettle without over-stepping the mark or trying to be nasty for the sake of it. It’s a difficult film to recommend, but if you know what you’re getting in to and are a hardened horror fan then it’s definitely worth one watch. Most of it is total rubbish but in the end it presented some truly frightening ideas which did haunt me and will probably continue to haunt me for some time. So that has got to be worth something, hasn’t it?

threeoutoften