Tuesday 12 May 2015

Where The Dead Go To Die (2012) - Movie Review

This is going to be a lot more scattershot than my usual reviews and I won’t be going into too much detail here, the reasons for which will become more than obvious as we get into this. As far as an introduction goes, all you really need to know is that I first found out about this movie through a review of it done by Diamanda Hagan; without that initial review, I likely would never have found this movie. Whether or not that’s a good thing has yet to be decided.

Where The Dead Go To Die is an anthology film directed, written, produced, co-scored and co-starred by Jimmy ScreamerClauz. It is centred around the residents of a seemingly normal town, told in three parts: Tainted Milk, where a demonic dog named Labby convinces a child that his unborn brother is evil; Liquid Memories, where a man uses a method of extracting a person’s memories to re-write his own; and The Masks That The Monsters Wear, where a boy falls in love with a girl and wants to save her from her father's 'movies'.

The protagonist of each segment is either a kid or at least grew up in the town and are led to doing terrible, terrible things Labby and remnants of Satan's Photoshopping called the Shadow People. From there, the film descends into David Cronenberg’s Silent Hill as filtered through the deepest trenches of the Internet. And I don’t mean the weird but ultimately harmless places like the brony communities; I’m talking places where you end up on government watch lists for knowing that they even exist. This will set off so many trigger warnings in its wake that if you have any baggage whatsoever, this is probably going to get a reaction from it; lots of gore, lots of sex (where not all of the participants are adults or even humans), lots of sacrilege, and all nightmare fuel. It gets to the point where my mind immediately began repressing memories of the film after watching it; that’s how deeply disturbing most of this stuff gets. What’s worse is that it isn’t even as a result of how graphic it is; sure, bestiality and paedophilia is still incredibly difficult to sit through, but the true horror comes from how bizarrely normal everything is. The characters treat what’s going on very much on the chin, with some rather embarrassingly na├»ve kids, and whatever imagery is used is built on and lingers for a good amount of time, enough so that it embeds itself into the viewer’s mind. This is what I was talking about last time with Unfriended about an ongoing feeling of dread; the atmosphere of this film is so thick with vile and night terror-creating images, it is legitimately tough to sit through all 90-or-so minutes of it.

The animation is… pretty bad in all honesty. Not that it’s anywhere near the worst I’ve seen, but it still looks like pre-PS1 graphics that are still being rendered in-film. Actually, I’m pretty sure that some of the graphics are still rendering given how glitchy it looks at times, which might not be that far from reality considering the motion capture for this film was all done through an Xbox Kinect... seriously. And yet, before too long, this extremely cheap look crosses that border into Stylistic Suck and ends up working as an aesthetic decision; of course, that might be because the imagery gets so messed up at times that you wouldn’t want it to look any closer to reality than it does.

The voice acting is made up mostly of Internet VAs, only one of whom I recognised in M Dot Strange as Doctor, and that’s only because of some surface knowledge of his equally baffling yet not nearly as depressing film We Are The Strange. The acting is actually pretty good in this, coinciding with the visuals and the surprisingly effective score to create some genuinely unsettling stuff. Labby's raspy whisper may take a bit to get used to, but it gets comfy in your dreams before too long.

This is a horror film designed specifically for the children of the Internet; the ones who have become so desensitised that the only horror films they can usually vibe to are the loud jump-scare fests that pollute cinemas nowadays. The reason why I made this review as short and unorthodox as I have is three-fold: One, going into any great detail about the contents of the film is going to scare off anyone and everyone who reads this (that, and it’s kind of difficult to describe some of the moments in this anyway); Two, it is genuinely unpleasant to recall what I can articulate in writing; and Three, and by far the most important, I want to lessen the damage  of the following statement. Even with all its flaws and the parts of the film that ultimately make no sense, based solely on how much this film managed to get under my skin and properly freak me out, I have to give respect where it’s due and call this a seriously good horror movie, unintentional as it may have been. Yeah, the director apparently made this as a comedy… I don’t know whether to call him the greatest troll filmmaker since Uwe Boll, or an accidental genius of body horror.

Unlike other purportedly disturbing films like A Serbian Film, this doesn’t have any bullshit ulterior motive to its creation besides possible trolling. This was made solely to fuck with the minds of the people watching it, whether for comedic effect or otherwise, and this film well and truly succeeded at doing that; it is the greatest horror movie that I never ever want to see again. If you have a supremely strong stomach and aren’t shy of trigger warnings (and not Internet-level warnings, but legitimate PTSD stuff), then I absolutely have to recommend this to you sick, sick people. Check the trailer here and if you’re still interested, you can buy it direct from the filmmakers here. Bear in mind that this film comes with a very begrudging recommendation and a very vivid warning at the same time, so make of that what you will.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to spend the next several days in the shower to wash away all this sin from considering this one of my new favourite films.

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