Judge Mac McEntire is proud to present the first review in this site's history to use the phrase "German transvestite search engine."
What's wrong with these people? Everything.
How about torturing me no more?
Facts of the Case
After being framed for his brother's murder, computer hacker Santos (Justin Leibig) escapes from the police and embarks on a search to find the real killer. This quest takes him to underground clubs, and into contact with all kinds of scum. Along the way, Santos meets Delilah (Kristina Doran), and the two of them embark on a vigilante spree against serial killers, child molesters, and the like, all while gathering clues to the murderer's identity.
This zero-budget indie alternates between gory thriller elements and over-the-top comedy elements so frequently, it took me a while to really understand just what writer/director Francis Xavier DeGennaro was going for. And then it hit me—whether it's shooting for laughs or scares, what this movie wants is to shock you. Every scene has to have some sort of shock value moment filled with weird crap, in the hope that jaws will drop will people see it. For example:
• Weird Crap Moment #1: The Downstairs Neighbors
• Weird Crap Moment #2: The Lady Cops
• Weird Crap Moment #3: Puppy Love
• Weird crap moment #4: German Transvestite Search
• Weird Crap Moment #5: The Last Temptation of Fachio
There are plenty of other weird crap moments that occur as the movie goes on, but I think you get the idea.
Seriously, though, let's take a moment to discuss the nature of shock value and storytelling. Just how does a filmmaker know when to make with the gross-out gag and when not to? Consider, by comparison, the "basement scene" in Pulp Fiction, in which the character Butch finds himself in a very bizarre predicament. The difference is that by the time we get to this scene, we've already spent time with Butch. We've seen him chat with a sexy cab driver, hang out with his girlfriend in their hotel room, and be threatened by a crime boss. We've also seen a telling flashback to his childhood. Because of all this background, the audience has built up an emotional investment in the character. When he winds up down there in that creepy basement, we can't believe he's in such a freaky situation, and we wonder what awful acts are about to happen. Now, let's look at the scene in Torture Me No More where Fachio attacks Delilah. We've never seen either character before, and within minutes of meeting them both, he's already hitting her and sexually abusing her in a disturbing and unnatural way. Is this shocking? Yes—but it's shock without context. The filmmakers have jettisoned plot, character and dramatic tension all for the sake of throwing as much grotesque imagery on the screen as possible, and the film suffers for it. Rather than take viewers on a truly disturbing and offbeat journey into that dark place of the soul, the film instead leaves viewers to say, "Well, that was gross," and move on.
The picture quality reveals the movie's low budget roots, and is often grainy and hazy. The sound quality is just a mess. It's hard to make out what the actors are saying at times, yet whenever the script calls for someone to scream or for the rock music to kick in, suddenly it's unnaturally loud. Included on the disc is a short film, I Should Get Mugged Every Day, which is more of the same kind of gruesomeness seen in the movie, and a dull special effects demo set to guitar music.
Am I being too harsh on this film? In other reviews, I've championed low-budget indie filmmakers for taking risks, pushing envelopes, and doing whatever it takes to tell the stories they want to tell. But the goal of this film is not to tell a story, it's to develop a reputation by stringing together a series of macabre scenes. If you're looking for a sleazy midnight movie, you can do better.
Guilty. Off to the torture chamber with you.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Koch Vision
• Bonus Short: I Should get Mugged Everyday
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