- 07 Jun 11
Dull remake is indefensibly thoughtless
Defending exploitation films isn’t easy, regardless of their political intentions or impact on 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 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 modernises, adding a slick paint job.
The defence for Darren Lynn Bousman’s update 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 at all. And maybe that will be its cultural impact. Bousman’s flick marks the crisis point in horror cinema, where exploitation films stopped exploiting lurid subject matter and started exploiting us instead. Staying at home may be the best option...