Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman. Starring Deborah Ann Woll, Shawn Ashmore, Lisa Marcos, Frank Grillo, Jaime King, Tony Nappo, Rebecca De Mornay. 112 mins.
In cinemas June 10
Defending exploitation films isn’t easy, regardless of their political intentions or impact on film or popular culture. Pasolini’s sexually depraved and scat-filled Salo may well be an artful, considered commentary on fascist Italy, but you’re still watching naked teens eating faeces. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre completely changed horror cinema, but you’re still watching scantily clad women dangling from meat-hooks. And supporters of Srđan Spasojević can say A Serbian Film is a metaphor for the abusive Serbian government all they want, but they’ve still paid to see a movie that involves a phrase that should never have been brought into existence – “newborn porn.” Surely there’s a where point someone should have asked whether a balanced, factual documentary would have been a better option?
When it comes to remakes, the case becomes even flimsier. It’s unlikely that the impact of the original will be as strong the second time round, and so the best one can hope for is that a skilled director chooses an intelligent film and cleverly modernizes, adding a slick paint job to an already well-oiled machine so that younger generations will appreciate it.
The defence for Darren Lynn Bousman’s remake of Charles Kaufman’s 1980 film isn’t flimsy, it’s non-existent. Kaufman’s violent, rape-filled original about a steely matriarch who encourages her sons to rape and torture was mediocre at best, saved only by the committedly crazy performances and its vague allegory about consumerism and domesticity. Bousman’s dull, clumsily edited, atmosphere-free remake features unlikeable characters, bad actors and a soap-opera script, without even the pretence of social commentary. It’s not remotely intelligent, entertaining or thought-provoking. Which means we’re watching young couples being slowly, graphically tortured and sexually abused for no goddamn reason.
And maybe that will be its cultural impact. Bousman’s film marks the crisis point in horror cinema, when exploitation films stopped exploiting lurid subject matter and started exploiting us instead. Don’t let it – stay at home.
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/TcdfNJx68VM" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]