Archive for the ‘Rape/Revenge’ Category

e293f5b0b0159844f92d9bdc72fc904bHave you ever bit down on a sore tooth on purpose? The pressure intensifies the pain, sometimes to the point of almost numbness. David Edelstein asks, in his article “Now Playing at Your Local Multiplex: Torture Porn,” if, perhaps, torture horror audiences have a masochistic side to them. Watching Eli Roth’s 2005 contribution to the torture genre, Hostel, is uncomfortable, to say the least. Too much sex in the first half and too much pain in the second.

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The character that you are most attached to gets mutilated and killed instead of being the hero. His jerk of a friend finds him too late to save him. The girl he does save ends up throwing herself in front of a train. Just when you think it’s all over, there is one more gruesome torture and murder scene, sliding the movie into the rape/revenge genre.

The friend, Paxton, played by Jay Hernandez, becomes one of the members of the Elite Hunting Club, both figuratively and literally. He has to Hostel-Still1kill his own tormentor and one of the guards in order to escape his personal torture chamber. Then he must dress in as one of them in order to pass through the building undetected. He must “play along” when he is confronted and questioned by a new member of the club.

These transformations are necessary in order to escape with his life; however, he chooses to go back and kill the new club member in order to save the girl, and he chooses to follow the The German Surgeon into the men’s room locking the door behind him. He chooses to cut off two of the man’s fingers in retribution for his on lost digits. He chooses to torture him before finally slitting his throat.

Hostel3Edelstein points out that the graphic depiction of sadistic acts torture the audience along with the characters. Also that the constantly shifting POV shots “forces the sinister car of complicity upon the viewer.” In essence, Roth is saying, “Don’t blame me for making this movie; blame yourself for watching it.”

I wonder, like the aching tooth, do we inflict this pain upon ourselves in hopes of numbing ourselves from the reality of violence that makes up the daily news?

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Grave gunMeir Zarchi was not trying to make a fun, friendly, family movie when he wrote, directed, and produced the 1978 graphic depiction of rape and comeuppance that is  I Spit on Your Grave.  The film is disturbing on several levels, but as one critic says, it’s supposed to be. Clover points out that the gritty realistic extreme approach that Zarchi takes, “reduces the genre to its essence” (115). Grave leaderZarchi does not glorify rape, but instead by dragging out the scene, keeping Camille Keaton naked throughout, and increasing the violence with each successive encounter, he creates extreme unease in those watching.

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Grave dressBeyond the content though, Zarchi used some techniques to play around with the psychological comfort of his audience. Like Roman Polanski in Rosemary’s Baby, Zarchi uses color to subconsciously affect the emotions of the audience. When we (and the men at the gas station) first meet  Jennifer she is wearing a red dress, emphasizing the impurity of the “big city woman” as well as signaling danger. Later after she heals from her attack and before she begins her revenge she is dresses in black, a representation of mourning; mourning her own lost innocence, and since she asks forgiveness for the murders that she is about to commit, mourning the men’s’ deaths as well. Grave blackHer outfit is not only black, but unlike every other outfit she wears, it covers her from head to foot, long sleeves, long pants, and even a scarf to cover her head. This covering of the body can also represents mourning, but since she wears the same outfit as she begins stalking her victims it gives her a kind of sneaky ninja feel as well. Grave whiteFinally, when she begins her murderous run on her attackers, she is wearing white, long, flowing, billowing white as if she is a ghost or a dream. After castrating the leader of the pack, she again dons the same white flowing gown as she listens to opera in order to drown out the screams of a man bleeding to death in her upstairs bathroom, and as she cleans up the blood mess left behind. This scene plays up the dramatic contrast between the red blood and the white tub, tile, and gown, representing, perhaps, the fact that these events have forever stained her life.

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