August Underground Trilogy
Dir. Fred Vogel (2001, 2003, 2007)
Three home-made style films chronicling the lives of serial killers and their friends.
CAUTION: THIS MOVIE'S SUBJECT & CONTENT IS EXTREMELY DISTURBING AND/OR BRUTAL. I HAVE CHOSEN NOT TO INCLUDE ANY PICTURES IN THIS REVIEW BECAUSE THEY MAY BE UPSETTING TO SOME READERS. MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS.
I recently watched all three of the August Underground movies (August Underground, Mordum, and Penance), strictly for the intent of reviewing them for my site and just to be able to say I have seen them. Ugh. I regretted my decision almost instantly. These films annoyed me to no end. I really wanted to duck out early instead of finishing them, but I pushed through. By the end of the third movie, I felt completely sick to my stomach. No, the gore didn't make me nauseous; I was sick that I had wasted so much time on these when there are so many other worthwhile things I could've done. I decided to review it as a trilogy, mainly so that I wouldn't have to devote any more space or time to these films than I had to.
Fred Vogel, the director and lead actor of the AU movies, is living the dream. He's directing and starring in his own films, and is making big bucks doing it, I'm sure. He owns his own production company, ToeTag Pictures, which is slowly working to become a legitimate player in the horror genre. It's also basically a highlight reel of the special effects that Vogel et al., are capable of producing, because there is some really good gore effects throughout the film. And good on him, I suppose. Everybody deserves to be able to make their place in the world, and if your deal is movies and special effects, you deserve the opportunity to make your own stuff and send it out into the world. I'm not one of those people who believes that certain movies shouldn't be released, or that we should censor ANYTHING. So for real, good on Fred Vogel for finding his audience. I'm also not one to believe that just because someone likes a certain movie it makes them more likely to be a violent psycho or anything of the like. That being said... I certainly hope I don't run into Vogel's biggest fan in an alley anytime soon.
Look, I like gore as much as the next guy, and some of my favorite horror movies are straight up splatterfests. But at some point, if you're going to make movies, you have to actually make a movie. You can't just focus on how much ridiculously contrived blood and guts you can put in a movie and expect it to be taken seriously. Truly, by the end of Penance, the third film in the series, it had moved past the point of ridiculousness and had gotten kinda boring. How much work does it actually take to make a series of movies with this level of violence in them that comes off as boring and monotonous? At almost 4 hours in length, it was the feeling that my time was wasted that bothered me the most.
I gotta say, as much as I didn't enjoy these movies, I do respect Vogel for what he's trying to do, and quite frankly, if he had had another star in these films, I probably would've found them much more enjoyable. It was Vogel himself who I found the most annoying, and his random screaming made me wish my volume was a little bit lower. Maybe I'm just not a homicidal lunatic enough to know that that's how they really behave, but for God's sake, shut the fuck up. Like, enough of the screaming. I get it, you're a wackjob. Shut the fuck up. I shouldn't be annoyed by the main protagonist, I should be scared. I wasn't scared at all. I wasn't even disturbed. I wanted to put it on mute.
Who these movies are for: Gorehounds of the highest order, Splatter horror fans, Sociopaths?
Bottom Line: Don't waste your time. Seriously. It's not fun, it's not entertaining. It's irritating. Go watch Gone With The Wind in the time it takes you to watch these three snoozefests. For real. It's a much better movie, and it's probably scarier.