"The most brutal movie ever made" meets its match in the most brutal review Judge Rafael Gamboa has ever written.
"The most brutal movie ever made."
This movie made me laugh. The sheer volume of imbecility I was subjected to soundly defeated any impulses towards physical disgust. Chaos is a film that (unwittingly) insults the intelligence of anyone with a quarter of a brain while trying very hard (and not entirely succeeding) to lay siege your stomach. To make matters worse, it's also a blatant rip-off of Wes Craven's Last House on the Left, which in turn was a rip-off of master filmmaker Ingmar Bergman's The Virgin Spring. Somewhere during this process of recycling the same material, all artistry, intelligence, and craftmanship disappeared, replaced with a brainless exploitation piece.
Facts of the Case
Supposedly based on the real-life work of serial-killer Donald "Pee Wee" Gaskins, the film is writer-director David "The Demon" DeFalco's (The Backlot Murders) "realistic" depiction of a double-homicide of two teenage girls caught in a gruesome cycle of unbelievable bad luck. They go to a rave party in the woods, meet a creepy character in hopes of scoring ecstasy, and follow him to his creepy cabin to meet his creepy friends. They then get killed in horrifying and inexplicably contrived ways in order to warn the audience of the dangers of following creepy characters into the woods.
This Director's Cut comes with three extra minutes of footage. Whoopee.
This movie is bad. Really, really bad. It's a piece of cheap exploitative sadism made so much worse by its aggravatingly incompetent execution. It's a film that hides behind the rice-paper defense of being a cautionary tale as a justification for showing fully naked young girls getting brutally murdered by men whose penises are somehow never seen despite how often they take off their pants. It's a film whose characters either have no purpose for existing except to die or whose actions fail to have any sort of psychological logic. It's a film hounded by a mind-boggling inability to construct space and time in any understandable fashion. And worst of all, the narrative is a putrid example of the worst kind of deus ex machina.
Let's ignore the ethical woes of this film for the moment and focus instead on its artistic and technical failings. The first thing that should be discussed is the film's atrocious spatial construction. Here's a macroscopic example: The girls drive from their Home to the Woods, then get on foot and cross a Bridge to get to the Party. From there, they walk to the Cabin of Doom, where they are thrown in a van and driven to the Killing Spot in a different part of the Woods. Now, from this we can infer several things: First, that Home is sufficiently far away from the Party that a car is necessary, and likewise the Cabin of Doom is far enough away from the Killing Spot to require the use of a van. One can also infer that the Killing Spot is far away from the Party, since it is further than the Cabin. And lastly, since they are in the Woods, that all these aforementioned places will be difficult to find from the randomly chosen Killing Spot, and almost impossible to find a person who happens to run away out of eyesight. Of course, the movie doesn't draw a map for us, but these are all probably safe assumptions, right?
The girls have several escape attempts, and in the course of these escape attempts we come to learn several things. It turns out that the Killing Spot is actually within prancing distance of the Bridge and walking distance of the Home. It also appears that the girls have been implanted with subcutaneous homing beacons, because no matter how many times they run away or how long they spend running or how many times they change direction, the bad guys untrained in tracking always seem to be able to know exactly where they are. The bad guys also seem to find them despite the fact they're walking and the running girls have a sizable head start, which means the bad guys are probably capable of teleportation. This is a deduction that seems to be supported by an incident when one of the fleeing girls sees the Bridge and clambers up the slope to it, only to find the bad guys waiting for her on the other side regardless of the fact they were behind her and should not have been able to get to the other side without first crossing that same Bridge or somehow vaulting themselves across the gaping chasm.
These shenanigans permeate almost every minute of the film. Characters are constantly happening across things in a cheaply providential way. People who didn't have a clue as to where the party was just happen to pull off the long winding road at the precise spot they'll need to get on foot and find the girls' parked car on their first try, and then manage to come across one of the girls' bodies five minutes later—all of this in the middle of the night in the freakin' woods. And it's not just the larger space and time of the film that's mangled; even small incidents stop making sense. People who were beaten to a pulp manage to escape a room without making a single noise, somehow escaping the detection of the people who were standing three feet from them, blocking the exit, and whose combined peripheral vision would have seen any movement faster than an incremental crawl. I assume, therefore, that these people escaped by gliding on their bellies and cloaking themselves.
The characters are all empty little shells. The good guys are the cliché archetypes you've seen in every Lifetime Original Movie involving rape and abuse. The mother is paranoid and completely out of touch with reality, the father is the "Don't worry, remember when we were kids too?" foil, the girls are naïve morons, and the cops are bumbling idiots. The bad guys, on the other hand, don't seem to be people at all. They're just…there. The only character that seems to have any sort of reality and internal psychological motivations is Chaos (Kevin Gage, Paparazzi, Blow), the leader of the bad guys, but he can summed up in one sentence: a misogynist sadist murderer who reacts violently to anything feminine. With the exception of Chaos, all the characters act in contradicting ways that are only explicable as a means to advance what meagre plot there is.
All of this is the result of a writer who doesn't care about anything except killing people off. Roger Ebert said something to the effect that the narrative of the film is a closed-circuit system that dooms characters to an inescapable fate, to which David "The Demon" DeFalco responded by saying there are numerous opportunities for escape in the film. This is true, but all these opportunities are all shut down in entirely unrealistic and unfair ways. It's as if you had a winning hand, turned it in, and then the dealer tells you, "Actually, you lose, because I'm taking your cards and using them for myself." Yes, you had a chance to win, but you lost not out of bad luck or poor ability, but because the person presiding over the game made you lose anyway. That's pretty much what happens in this movie all the time.
Not only are the mise-en-scene and narrative abysmal, but the haphazard editing exacerbates all their space-time acrobatics and also manages to step on rookie land mines that anyone who's taken a high school-level media class would know to avoid. Characters will shift around on screen because the filmmakers have a poor sense of shot composition and continuity editing. This culminates in a horrible goof in the final scene that makes it seem like something happens to somebody that actually happens to somebody else, making the already nonsensical scene even less comprehensible. The sound also has a bizarre tendency to fluctuate from loud to quiet for no reason except to force you to adjust your volume every six minutes.
About the DVD features, they mostly lame. There is a poorly-edited filmed rebuttal offering a weak and barely articulated counter-argument to Roger Ebert's scathing analysis of the film. This video is also bafflingly plagued by an incessant jingling noise with no apparent source, which doesn't help David "The Demon" DeFalco look professional. There's also a documentary on the LA Coroner's Crypt which would be incredibly interesting and engaging if it weren't for the periodically spliced in footage of David "The Demon" DeFalco being a cartoonish freak of a moron in front of the camera, showing zero respect for the dead around him by acting like a shirtless goth professional wrestler, flexing his abnormal muscles and making silly animal grunts and snarls while boasting about how cinematic history is being made because he's the first director to be interviewed in a crypt. There's also a commentary track by "The Demon" and producer Steven Jay Bernheim that I didn't bother to listen to. Sue me.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Redeeming qualities? Actually, there are a few. The acting is fairly decent. Kevin Gage is by far the best of the bunch, and the rest turn in pretty good performances. The two girls, however, were obviously chosen not because they were good actresses, but because they were good-looking and because they could scream. There is also one gory special effect that looks incredibly real and is considerably well done. But that's about it.
It's ironic that a film called Chaos is so internally inconsistent and irregular as to provide an anarchic experience, yet still manages to be implacably predictable. There's no stopping the events that happen, no matter how awkwardly or illogically the film gets to them. This movie is dumb and it's boring, and it's not even worth watching for free.
Guilty of being a terrible movie. The court sentences Chaos to be taken out back and shot.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Razor Digital
• The Roger Ebert Controversy
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