You know you are becoming desensitized to violence and insane cinema when you can get through this trilogy in three days and not feel completely vile and disturbed. At least that is what I thought after watching the first film. By the third night, and the end of the third film, I was wondering if there was something wrong with me for watching this entire trilogy so quickly. While I cannot say that these films will get many repeated viewings, I can say that there are flashes of greatness in certain aspects of the making of these movies.
The first film in the trilogy is pretty crazy. It is not the sickest movie ever made, as the cover proclaims. Good or bad, the filmmakers probably had to wait to accomplish that tag line with the second film. This movie does open with a certain amount of shock value. As the film starts, we just see a guy messing around with his video camera. As we follow him into his home we are very nonchalantly introduced to a scene of sheer terror. A woman tied to a chair, beaten and bloody. Our protagonist then proceeds to inflict upon her some pretty horrific forms of torture.
As the film begins, you wonder if this is no more than another rip off of the Guinea Pig series. It, however, is much more than that. It takes the found footage aspect, popularized by The Blair Witch Project two years prior, and takes the violence and gore completely over-the-top. It is an easier found footage comparison to Cannibal Holocaust, because of the exploitation film aspect. These films are designed to shock and disgust the viewer. I respect this to a certain degree; however, like I said before, being shocked and disturbed can only carry me so far.
In a way, I am hypocritical in regards to my feelings about these types of films. I get extremely pumped to see these movies. I always want to see the films that claim that they are the sickest and most disturbing films ever made. Most of the time, I see them and I feel let down; and then, when I find films that are truly disturbing, I turn around and rip them for being pointlessly disgusting. I think the bi-polar feelings I get from these films come from the fact that I am a gore guy. I love being disgusted by great realistic gore effects. I don’t like being disgusted by degenerate sexuality. For instance, the Guinea Pig films are pretty good in my eyes. Nekromantik 2, on the other hand, seemed a pretty pointless endeavor in my eyes.
The best thing about August Underground is the fact that it caters to both of these types of depravity. The sexual torture and overuse of certain bodily fluids is there for that viewer. It also has they some of the best gore effects ever produced, for the viewer whose preferences lean more in my direction. I still just can’t bring myself to tell you that this movie is for everyone. It can also be difficult to procure legitimate copies; therefore, finding it for $20+ may not be worth it for the common horror fan. It is definitely worth it for the collector of the rare and the fan of the extreme though. As a collector, I do see a certain amount of value in owning a film such as this, based on rarity and gore alone.
If I have to rate this film, I have to take into consideration the things I value while weighing the pros and cons. There are pros in regards to the fact that is surprisingly more of a film than you would expect. The scenes that accompany the murder scenes, involve the killers in very normal situations. They get tattoos and go to concerts. Of course, what they do in these settings usually point towards sociopathic and degenerate types of behavior. This gives the film some value as a study in the mind and actions of a killer. At times, it even felt like you were watching something like Kids. It was the realism of the obscene actions of the characters that gave the film an almost documentary type feel. It doesn’t help that I know people who act like some of these characters, which always serves as a reminder to the sickness there is in the world. With the social commentary I just mentioned, I feel like I’m talking this film into a higher rating than it deserves. I also feel like this is a film that must be rated on different factors, depending on the potential viewer. On a disturbing scale, it gets an 8/10. It would probably make any viewer’s top ten list of the most disturbing films they have ever seen; but, it doesn’t make my top 5. Gore effects get a definite 9/10; but, as a film that I have to recommend to the common viewer, it probably only deserves a 6/10 overall. Fans of Guinea Pig, A Serbian Film, the Vomit Gore Trilogy, etc., however, would probably give this film closer to an 8/10. For me, although there were things I liked, I still found myself just a little let down in every category. Maybe there was just too much hype around it.
Check back for my review of the sequel, Mordum. Despite my lukewarm review of this film, Mordum kinda blew my mind.