Thursday, 24 December 2015

Loving A Vegetable (2015) - Movie Review
No-one will ever be able to predict how much I’ve wanted to talk about the director of today’s film on this blog, because this is truly one of those oddities that you can only stumble across by sheer accident: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the world of Bill Zebub. For this one, I once again have friend of the blog Diamanda Hagan to thank, as she reviewed not one but three of the man’s films: Forgive Me For Raping You, Zombiechrist and Dolla Morte, the last review of which looked so insane that I just had to find out for myself and wound up purchasing the film on DVD.

Cut to a few months ago, and my mother texting me if I had heard about the film ‘Antfarm Dickhole’, no doubt the most infamous of his filmography. I then ran straight into her room, clutching my copy of Dolla Morte and proceeded to educate her a bit more on the subject. After trying (and failing) to convince her to watch it with me, I went to the mighty Google and found out that he had two new films out this year. As if I needed a better excuse to check out more from Zebub. Let’s get started with today’s subject: This is Loving A Vegetable… which, in terms of film names, is about as innocuous as Lucio Fulci’s Don’t Torture A Duckling. I can only hope that it doesn’t involve mating with produce.

The plot: Lydia (Lydia Lael), a woman in a wheelchair, is looking to sell her house. Steve (Steve Nebesni) arrives at her front door under the pretence of buying it. However, once she lets him inside, it turns out that his motives are far more sinister: Since she’s in a wheelchair, he believes that as she won’t physically feel anything, it won’t be as traumatic if he rapes her. A few other women (Scarlett Storm, Vanna Blondelle, Andrea Hall) arrive at her house over the day, but none of them are prepared for what Steve has in store for them.

This film is only 74 minutes long. It is also brain-numbingly drawn out as there are really only four scenes in the entire film, each one centred on a different girl being raped by Steve with monologues by the rapist in-between them. The sex is incredibly slow and awkward in ways beyond the obvious, the blocking is stilted as hell and… yeah, there is literally nothing else to it than that. A quote from the film’s Vimeo page claims that “the style of these depictions was carefully chosen to heighten discomfort” and, to be fair, it is genuinely uncomfortable to sit through… but probably not for the reasons Zebub was aiming for. Rather than bringing attention to how immoral and vile the actions themselves are, it instead is filmed and staged in such a way as to induce boredom out of repetition. It stops being shocking when we are stuck looking at the same badly-simulated sex scene for several minutes on end.

As for the dialogue, if I’m being honest, it’s actually more uncomfortable to sit through than the rape scenes. Aside from his fixation on rape, Zebub is probably the only militant Atheist filmmaker that I’ve come across as everything I’ve seen of his contains some form of commentary on religion. The entire motive behind the rapist’s actions is that, because Lydia has no feeling in her legs, she suffer any physical trauma from the rape. This is then connected to the door-to-door Christian that conveniently arrives at their door, where Steve brings up how born-again Christians use their faith like a crutch… or a wheelchair. Yeah, this is going to be my back-up if I ever get called out for being anti-theist in some of my other reviews, as this kind of rampant insensitivity is easily the other side to God’s Not Dead’s coin. I maintain that GND is far more insulting, as it not only attacks every group possible but thinks it’s taking the moral high ground by doing so, but this is definitely more negatively affecting in its bluntness. However, funnily enough, the big thing that got to me in this film is Steve's dialogue. This isn't even because of how bluntly he talks about what he's going to do these women but that he constantly makes sub-sub-par jokes during and always ends it with "Get it?" and explaining the joke. This gets aggressively annoying before too long, especially when he does it several times in the space of a few minutes.

What makes this weird though is that I’ve seen Zebub do some pretty decent religious satire before that, while close to this level, had a far better point to it.I mentioned Forgive Me For Raping You before, and the core behind that film was pointing out the hypocrisy of the church about how they give rapist priests a slap on the wrist for their transgressions, giving the main character of that film the idea that they just allow priests to rape people. That is venomous but remarkably sharp at the same time, not to mention being aimed at a more than reasonable target. Nothing nearly that pointed is to be found here. Actually, speaking of Forgive Me For Raping You, this is pretty much the same film just with even cheaper production values: Same non-acting, same horribly staged rape scenes, same espousing about religion; all that’s different is that it all takes place in the same house and there are four victims here instead of five. So, not only this film unpleasant for none of the fulfilling reasons and badly made, it’s also redundant because it already exists under another name.

All in all, I wasn’t expecting anything truly spectacular out of this. That said, between the sheer insanity of Dolla Morte, where Osama Bin Laden tells the Pope to “let Jesus fuck [him]”, and the surprisingly sharp writing in some of his other works like Forgive Me For Raping You, I was definitely expecting at least a little better than this. Even for a less than 80 minute film, this is excruciatingly slow and feels like it takes forever to get anything done. Or, at least, it would if anything was actually getting done other than showing women getting raped for the film’s running time. It’s uncomfortable, but not for any reason that warrants even suggesting to watch this for yourself. It can be found on Vimeo along with some of the director’s other work but, honestly, I’d find a better way to spend your hard-earned $6.66. Yeah, the guy named Bill Zebub seriously marked up one of his films with that price; some things in life are so trite that they hurt.

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