Dir. Koji Shiraishi (2009)
A doctor kidnaps a young couple on their first date to experiment on torture and hopelessness.
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 watched Grotesque a few weeks ago, adding it to my Netflix queue after seeing it mentioned on many lists as the "King of Torture Porn." I was intrigued, especially since, from the reviews I read, it seemed devoid of plot, dedicated solely to being a gross-out flick. On my quest to find the most disturbing movie ever, viewing Grotesque seemed to be a natural course of action. For those who said that it was solely about the gore with little to no plot, they were generally right. There was very little plot. A doctor who is not easily sexually excited gets off on the hope that others have as he tortures them. Aaaaand that's pretty much it. Alright. I'm sure I've seen worse. And if the gore really was as good as people said, then it could still be a worthwhile flick.
I gotta say, I was pretty disappointed. It seemed kind of run of the mill to me. It wasn't terrible, and it definitely had some decent scenes, but it also seemed really forced to me. There's a scene near the beginning of the movie that showed the couple the doctor abducts out on their first date, and the lady turns to the man and asked him if he would die for her...
Excuse me, what the fuck? Is this a normal thing to ask on a first date? Have I been doing it wrong all these years? Who the fuck would ask someone else if they would die for them on a first date? See, if this had been any other movie, her bizarre line of questioning would've resulted in a black widow scenario, where the creepy-ass girl takes the man home and kills him(which would've been WAY cooler). Nope, not this time. The mad doctor abducts them, and uses his affirmative answer against them. Oh yeah, by the way: the guy says yeah, he would totally die for this chick. What the hell is that? Is that a pickup line in Japan? Yeah baby, I'd totally die for you. I just didn't feel like it fit the movie at all, and was just a bizarre and extremely convenient line the writers (if there were any) threw in there just to give the main villain something to base his attack on.
As far as the gore goes, it was pretty tame. I mean, at least as far as some of the recent movies I've watched go. The scene with the chainsaw to the fingers was fairly extreme and realistic and was one of the highlights of the film. I dug the whole "hope" aspect, how the doctor promised to let the couple go if they showed him their will to live, and how he took it away with one final test of their love. But overall, the film was pretty meh. There's a scene at the very end of the movie where the killer decapitates his female victim, and her head flips into the air and comes down to bite the doctor's neck. It was reminiscent of a similar scene in Peter Jackson's Dead Alive, which I (unfortunately) only got the chance to watch even more recently than Grotesque. The problem with the scene's inclusion in this film is that it takes a movie that was otherwise largely a realistic exercise in torture and makes it into a fucking cartoon. Dead Alive was practically a cartoon, using every excuse to drench the scene in blood. This one was supposed to be a torture porn of the more realistic kind, and you have a disembodied head flipping through the air to bite the doctor? Just... dumb as all hell.
Not your best effort, Japan. I mean, sure, it scores points on the disturbing scale for not having much of a plot and focusing solely on the gore, but in my opinion, that's really the only place it scores. The acting was barely capable, the doctor was sufficiently creepy but not overly so, and the gore was decent but not even Hostel-level extreme. It was decent, but honestly not worth the watch for me. As far as I'm concerned, it was just a waste of three days of my free Netflix-through-the-mail trial.
Who this movie is for: Gorehounds, J-horror fanatics, Plenty of Fish enthusiasts
Bottom line: This one isn't great, but it may scratch your gore-itch if you're really hard up. Watch it if you want to "see them all." Don't if you want to "watch good movies."