Director: Taylor Sheridan
Rating: 3 / 5
When you read the synopsis of this movie, it's going to be intriguing. It's going to make you think that this thing has some potential and that it might be interesting. Both are true, but there are some things that make it disappointing, and those things cause it to lose a couple of points. It all starts when a group of friends picks up a female hitchhiker. When they reach her destination, she spews some gas at them, rendering them unconscious. They wake up in a strange house with a group of strangers, and they've all got vials implanted in the back of their heads. A talking head on a TV screen tells them that these vials must be filled with some brain fluid that is released when the body tells the brain something is wrong. In other words, they must be in extreme pain for these chemicals to be released. One of the guys actually points out that these chemicals can also be released during sex. But all the girls are so repulsed by that idea that they would rather torture themselves. Personally, I'd take the sex any day. But that wouldn't be much of a horror movie, though, would it? I think leaving that remark out of the script entirely would have made the characters look 98% less stupid. So, they all take turns getting the shit beat out of them, having their fingernails ripped out, being seared with an iron/boiling water, and other such torturous things. They have twenty two hours to fill the vials all the way up. There's a second vial in their skulls that will release some deadly thing that will kill them. So if they refused to participate in their host's twisted little game, it's lights out for them.
Okay, there are a couple of ways that this movie fails. First, the characters aren't all that great. There was only one character that I really cared about, and that was only because she was pregnant. But [spoiler alert] she dies anyway, so it doesn't matter. There was another character that I kind of liked, but that didn't end very well either. They were all shallow, cowardly, and they didn't care about anything but their own asses. There were a few who wanted to help everyone get out of there alive, but most were just vain assholes. Maybe that was a reflection of humans and their complete disregard and disrespect for one another, but it just made the characters easy to hate.
Second, you would think that being in the torture porn subgenre of horror, there'd be a little bit of blood, right? Fuck no, you'd think there'd be a whole shitload of blood. Well, there's just a little bit. There isn't all that much gore, and the torture methods are repeated so they can remain humane and not hurt each other too much. Fuck that, I say. Sure, that's the right thing to do, and I'd do the same thing in that situation. But that's not what I want to see in a movie that boasts about torture and calls itself "vile". I want to see people get seriously fucked up. One man did get pretty fucked up, but it didn't last long enough to really save it. I would have liked to have seen a little more variation, and a little more creativity. Fingernail pulling and burning is pretty bland, yes? There were some that made me cringe, but that's not really what I was looking for.
Lastly, the ending. [spoiler alert]It was disappointing for me, because like I said above, the pregnant chick dies. How are you gonna kill off the one person I was able to care about? I mean, really? I will say, though, that the last few lines of the movie had me giggling.
Despite all of that, I wouldn't call this a terrible movie, as other reviewers do. It kept me interested, because I wanted to see what they were going to do to each other. It failed on a couple of points, but there were some things I liked about it as well. I think was more on an emotional level. It was what people will do to each other in order to save their own lives; or what they will do to themselves to save their lives. I think the movie was going for a deeper sort of entertainment, and it succeeded somewhat, but not completely. It gets a three point rating because it was okay, but it could have been a lot better.