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I must admit i have a penchant for the macabre, extreme macabre. I take everything with a grain of salt of course (it's only a movie after all), and always look underneath the primary shock to see if anything interesting is lurking. I often find something interesting in these types of movies. Being a pretty vanilla guy, i am fascinated by perversion in its most philosophical way because i often feel so far removed from it. Does that make sense? When a subversive film stops being exploitative and reaches poetic heights, albeit sick, i can't be happier.
I have heard of Nacho Cerda for some time already and knew of this movie, but it's only been recently released on DVD in February 2007. I ordered it right away but it took me a while to watch it because due to its very graphic nature, i didn't want to play it when the kids were around. Be forewarned that if you give this film a try (it's available at Netflix along with another fantastic short film called Genesis (1998) from the same director which i also reviewed here), you are in for some of the most disturbing images you have ever seen. This is perhaps one of the most beautiful graphically charged film i have ever seen, this one perfect gem of aesthetics, extreme perversion and dramatic philosophy. You can count it in the same club as Texas Chainsaw Massacre 1, The (1974), Scarlet Letter, The (2004), Irreversible (2002) or Rampo Noir (2005), to name a few. This film is viciously merciless.
The subject matter and its treatment here are arresting. The film opens with two morgue attendants going about their business of dissecting the corpses of two men. One of the man looks like he died in a car accident, and the other looks like he died of a drug overdose. The scene is extremely realistic and graphic, while the two corpses are open, and organs of interest are extracted, including brains. The camera films this almost like a documentary, paying attention to many small details and sparing no sensibility. Genitals are in full view, and various physiological phenomenons such as rigor mortis and its effects on the body are amply detailed. After the two bodies are cleaned up and wrapped up, one of the attendants leaves. The coast now clear, the remaining man brings a fresh corpse, that of a woman this time, and goes on raping and mutilating her in unimaginable ways. This is violent, shocking, and all the more potent with an incredible cinematography and Mozart's Requiem.
The movie features some wonderful classical music, with Mozart's Requiem front and center. The cinematography is amazing with subdued lights and shadows. There aren't any dialog and the power of the film relies of course on its subject matter, and each frame which was carefully composed. Ultimately, the images you see on screen are very raw and if you can stomach them, should bring in you lots of existential questions. The one i asked myself immediately is whether i cared about anything that would happen to my body after i die. I am not a religious man, but i do believe in the soul, and once death occurs, is the human body nothing more than a few pounds of flesh? Obviously, seeing the perversion of the attendant is sickening, but i believe Nacho Cerda, who wrote and directed this film doesn't really care about that side of the story, focusing instead on the simple nature of the human body and what happens to it after it dies. In our society, lots of things that are pretty gruesome happen to many bodies after death. Forget rape and acts of sexual depravation: just a simple autopsy is a very violent thing and the film certainly depicts one in very gory details, including pretty strong sound effects that are guaranteed to make you cringe. The music and the sound in this film are amazing, and so loud volume is warranted. I really wish i had seen this in a theater.
This is a movie that pushes many boundaries in terms of graphically depicting gore. It's all the more impressive since this is a film from 1994. It does its thing with a sense of aesthetics that is rarely seen. It also loads the immediately shocking visuals and subject matter with loads of questions for the viewer. It should make you ask yourself about your own views on the aftermath of death, not what happens to your souls, but what could happen to your body. I personally see the body after death as nothing more than meat (don't miss the last minute of the film to see how far it goes), yet, it is true that if anything i saw tonight ever were to happen to a loved one after they died, i'd be pretty mad. But i probably wouldn't care if it were me. Why is that? This may be a short feature, but it must be some of the most intense 30mn i have seen on film.
- Laurent Hasson