Monday, 8 October 2018



I'm slowly coming round to the idea that film reviewing (as opposed to film criticism or film analysis) isn't really about the film but about Me: how I respond to it, whether I laugh or scream or cry, how it makes me feel. Reviews are an expression of a personal reaction to the films and so are at least partly about the reviewer. Is it just me? Am I alone in this? Am I just getting old? Why does everyone or no-one else find this funny or scary or moving or profound or arousing? I have sat on sofas with people watching the same DVD on the same screen at the same time and they've laughed consistently and I haven't cracked a smile - how is that possible? Because we're all different. Most films aren't perfect because they're not aimed at the unique you and so don't chime absolutely with you and your life and your world, but if enough of them come close then it's still worth the effort in looking, in wading through the sludge.

But sometimes you have to ask out loud: is it just Me? Or is the movie objectively, factually, empirically, unarguably terrible? Watching (or more exactly staring slack-jawed at) the Spanish badtasteathon The Night Of The Virgin left me wondering not just why I don't get the joke, not just whether the joke was worth the telling, but whether I should even bother with listening to any jokes at all ever again: are their standards too low or are mine too high? This is a revolting film, tirelessly mining the seamiest seams of grossout tastelessness for very little reward. Gloopy bodily fluids have their place (The Fly), and I'm a fan of a well-crafted knob gag as much as the next man, but there has to be something more going on underneath the puking and shrieking.

December 31st: shy and socially gauche Nico isn't having any joy picking up a hot babe to see the New Year in with: they're either stoned or vomitously drunk. Until he's spotted by an older woman who takes him back to her filthy, cockroach-ridden apartment for what he mistakenly assumes is going to be a night of red hot passion. Unfortunately he's been specially selected as part of a plot to bring a Nepalese goddess into the world; meanwhile, the woman's boyfriend is outside shouting and threatening....

If, early on, there are trace memories of films like After Hours, in which a regular zero guy has his life shaken apart when he encounters utter barking lunatics, they're pretty quickly dispelled once the vomit and semen and menstrual blood are brought into play and the film turns into turned-up-to-eleven shrieking hysteria and stays there for most of the running time (the birthing scene itself, graphic in an entirely unwarranted way, goes on for absolutely ages, as though they'd looked at Isballe Adjani's freakouts in Possession and decided to go further). But at some point, probably quite early on, I started to get fed up with it. I started finding it wearing, I started to find it dull, and I wasn't finding it entertaining in any way.

A grinding, unenjoyable bore, this is just wallowing in the sewer, grubby and repugnant on a level somehow lower than the cartoonishly stupid Troma movies: anything up to twenty minutes of screaming and genitalia could have been lopped out, if only to get the damned thing over quicker because there's no way lowbrow sex and gore movies should be 110 minutes long. Maybe it's an age thing. Maybe the film is aimed at a new breed of horror fans in their twenties, not crumbly oldsters in their fifties given to muttering at bus stops about how much better things were in their day with their Jasons and Freddys, and the worst you could get was a rubbish Howling sequel. After The Night Of The Virgin, I would have killed to see a rubbish Howling sequel, even the Marsupials one with Dame Edna Everage in it. Twice.


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