Saturday, 21 March 2015



Since Saw, we've seen quite a number of films in which a group of people are stuck in a bunker somewhere and are forced to endure horrible things or hurt one another in order to survive. It's a setup that's featured in films as disparate as Vile, the Cube series, Hunger (not the Fassbender/McQueen one), the astonishingly rubbish Bane, and even the thundering idiocy of the Japanese Death Tube, not counting the actual Saw sequels themselves. In such company, this fairly monotonous but agreeably bloody thudfest acquits itself reasonably well.

In the meaninglessly-titled Raze, Zoe Bell wakes up in an underground bunker and is forced to take part in an elimination contest of one-on-one unarmed combat to the death with a series of other captive women. If they don't comply, the shadowy cult that abducted them will kill members of their families. The organisation behind it is led by one-time Twin Peaks star Sherilyn Fenn and Doug Jones, probably more familiar as non-human characters in Guillermo Del Toro films but here just a pencil moustache away from Baltimore's finest, John Waters. Why? Well, it's supposedly something to do with maenads, ill-defined female figures from Greek mythology (why not Roman, given the gladiatorial arena setting?) but it mostly looks like a gathering of obnoxious rich bastards watching terrified young women beating each other to death for the joyous, life-affirming spectacle of it.

The fight scenes themselves are brutally violent (no wimping out for a 15 certificate here!) and certainly painful to watch, but there comes a point where you want something more from a film than attractive women punching each other in the face. Character isn't particularly deep: there's the shy mousy one who you'll feel sad for when she gets killed, the shouty bitchy one who you'll feel happy for when she gets killed, and you know Zoe Bell's going to win all her fights because it's Zoe Bell. The film is also saddled with one of those downbeat endings which is presumably supposed to compound the helpless horror of the movie but actually leaves you unsatisfied because it's entirely unnecessary. Still, it's sadistically bloody and does the job if you want to watch girls murdering each other for nebulous reasons, but doesn't that make you one of the millionaire scumbags at the cocktail party upstairs?


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