Ginger Nuts of Horror
Come on in, the water's execrable...
Snuff 102 (2007)
Mariano Peralta (Argentina)
Come on in, the water's deplorable...
Megan is Missing (2011)
Michael Goi, USA
Welcome back to Film Gutter, and today the water is deceptive as we wade into what looks like beautiful, clear waters with Megan is Missing. It's an interesting entry in the series, and I went back and forth on whether to include it as part of Film Gutter, but I struggle to think of something in recent memory that has left me quite this harrowed and upset at the end of its run time. Don't be fooled by this movie – there might be more extreme films visually out there, but this packs an undoubted punch.
The plot of Megan is Missing is relatively simple, although it is really interestingly delivered. Megan and Amy are best friends, both 14 years old, with Megan being vivacious and outgoing and Amy being shy, retiring and self-conscious. Megan's other friends don't really understand why she likes Amy, but it's clear their friendship has far more depth to it than the vacuous partying she does with her other schoolmates. Most of the film is shot three ways – one via online webcam conversation, the other on mobile phone videochat, and the third through the lens of Amy's video camera, a gift for her 14th birthday.
In a sense Megan isn't really the lead, despite the title. She's omnipresent in the first half of the film, as the most popular girl in school and her outrageous antics certainly make her popular with the guys at school. We find out more about the past that leads to this kind of behaviour on her part as the story wears on, but Amy is probably the person whose eyes we see most of the story through. And when Megan meets Josh online – a mysterious and shy stranger she is introduced to – they develop a relationship. Megan goes to meet Josh for the first time, and is never seen again.
From there we follow the attempts to find Megan, partly by police and media and in no small part by Amy, who tries to retrace her friend's steps through her video diary. The first hour of the film is intriguing, without doubt, and the characters are well-drawn and built through strong and convincing dialogue. There's a lot to like in that opening 60 minutes, but there's nothing terribly shocking, apart from a couple of unsettling images were are exposed to. The paucity of the relationships Megan has with anyone other than Amy – even her own mother – are ruthlessly exposed once she has disappeared, and the media angle is also presented in a fascinating way.
I'm going to try and avoid being too spoilery, but I've never seen a movie shift gear so quickly and effectively since my first viewing of Audition. The last 20 minutes of the movie are in stark contrast to the softer shock beforehand, and I have to say left me genuinely distraught. That was probably in no small part because I was totally unprepared for it, so you can consider yourself forewarned and forearmed after reading this review. But if there's a more powerful 20 minutes of cinema than that, then I have yet to see. It was absolutely crushing, gutwrenching and heart-rending to watch.
I was surprised at just how much this film affected me – the look of it reminded me of the dreadfully heavy-handed Chaos, and there's no secret to the message here either – do the parents out there really know what their kids are doing online, and are kids taking all the precautions that they need to? But while Chaos felt hammy and overplayed, Megan is Missing was any amount more effective for its subtle approach and very clever pacing. If you're after a real gorefest, then there are any number of films out there better for you. If you want to see something seriously impactful and disturbing, then Megan is Missing is going to be hard to beat.
RATING: 9.5/10. Another stunningly high rating, because this one had great filmic qualities beyond being shocking and disturbing. The acting was strong, the characters were believable, the style and feel of it made it seem all the more realistic and the finale absolutely knocked me for six. Seriously, I was so down all afternoon after watching this one – you might want to clear a few hours for recovery afterwards if you do intend to watch this one. And forget about what the kids are up to, you can bet I won't be talking
Follow the links below for more horror reviews
Welcome back to Film Gutter – that time of the week where we swim way past the shallow end of mainstream cinema to the deep end – dare we say dangerous end – of fringe film. We're looking at a very recent piece this week, and a new entry into the pantheon of extreme horror – Phil Stevens' Flowers. I knew practically nothing about this film before getting started – the only thing I was aware of was that the film had no dialogue at all, a rare feat in cinema and something that can add a distinct layer of challenge to watching any movie. I struggled to think of anything besides Begotten that had gone down that particular road. So, ultimately, I was arriving to this one with no preconceptions and no real sense of what I was getting into.
Welcome back to Film Gutter four our latest skinnydip in the strange waters at the very edge of cinema as we know it. We're far from the safety flags and lifeguards as always, as we dive headfirst into one of the newest films we've reviewed here at Film Gutter, Eat.
Welcome back to Film Gutter, and today the waters are even more murky and horrendous than usual. One of the reasons I wanted to start writing Film Gutter is that I was curious where my line was in terms of offence, shock, controversy and so on. I've always liked things that have been edgy – comedy, TV, film, books – and I set about wondering if I could find a point where I'd say 'you know, really, that's just too much.' When I started this series, I was amazed how many of the supposedly controversial films out there I'd already seen and filed away in my brain as not having made much of an impact on me. Maybe Film Gutter at its heart is a test of my own endurance.
Butt never has that been more sorely tested than by today's film, Thanatomorphose.
Welcome back to Film Gutter. Today we're still treading water in the deep end as we come to the close of our trilogy of Jorg Buttgereit reviews. After 1993's Schramm, the German director went distinctly quiet on the film front but is now just starting to re-emerge in a small way in the world of European horror cinema. But today's focus is on the sequel to one of the most controversial offerings of the video nasty era – yes, it's time for Nekromantik 2. This movie holds the dubious honour of having copies seized in Munich within a fortnight of its release, a stunning censorship move for the 1990s.
Welcome back to Film Gutter. Let's go for another swim, shall we?
Today's movie in the spotlight is the second of our three Jog Buttgereit reviews, and the first offering from the director, Nekromantik. Undoubtedly one of the nastiest of the video nasties, the movie is still banned in many countries around the world and was only cleared for screening here in the UK in 2014. I was lucky enough – or perhaps unlucky enough? – to have the pleasure of seeing this movie on the big screen, where its often nauseating imagery was all the more impactful. But what is it that makes this movie so controversial? Well, the clue's in the name – the main subject matter here is necrophilia, which is used as a vehicle to explore the areas of love, sex and death.
Welcome back to Film Gutter, where we spend a while swimming in the effluence that mainstream horror leaves behind. After a week off, we're back with the first of three reviews looking at one of the best-known names in extreme horror, and a man synonymous with the video nasty era, Jorg Buttgereit. So infamous was his movie Nekromantik that it has only just been granted a cinema release for the first time, 26 years after its initial release. But more of that one – and its surprising sequel – in the next fortnight.
For today, we're spending some time looking at Schramm, Buttgereit's take on the serial killer movie. The movie begins with the death of our lead character, who falls from a ladder whilst painting his house. Cosy and domestic, no? Well, anything but, in all honesty. Because in those dying moments we relive the life of Lothar Schramm in all its glory and ugliness. The film comes with the subtitle 'Into the Mind of a Serial Killer', which works perfectly for this one.
Welcome back to Film Gutter, and today we're diving deeper than ever before into the darkest waters of horror – in fact, in this review we'll be diving all the way down to hell itself for the shadowy trip that is Necromentia.
Honestly, this was a film that I knew very little of before coming to watch. It had a few mentions on some of my favourite 'disturbing films' lists, but other than that I was coming to this one pretty much blind. What I was getting myself into was perhaps not as horrific in terms of content as some of our previous reviews, but the atmosphere of this film was absolutely, unrelenting bleak and – for want of a better word – grubby.
Come on in, the water's foul...
SLAUGHTERED VOMIT DOLLS (2006)
Dir. Lucifer Valentine, USA
Well, that was fun...
If you start scanning the internet looking for shocking or extreme films, you're almost certain to stumble across the work of Lucifer Valentine. The Vomit Gore Trilogy in particular, starting here with Slaughtered Vomit Dolls and continuing in ReGOREgitated Sacrifice and Slow Torture Puke Chamber, is notorious for its disturbing content and unique style of presentation. The trilogy itself follows the story of Angela Aberdeen, a bulimic runaway porn star who falls in with a deeply bad crowd. I say 'follows the story' – it's very difficult to pick up anything much of a narrative thread in SVD, and as far as I can gather parts 2 and 3 follow very much in the same vein.