La Petite Mort
Dir. Marcel Walz (2009)
Three friends find themselves at an underground German torture club for the rich. Hilarity ensues.
CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
Man oh man. A German movie about an S&M torture dungeon with Olaf Ittenbach (Legend of Hell, Premutos: The Fallen Angel) doing the effects… You had me at hello! It’s also not inaccurate to say that a movie with that pedigree will not be for everyone, and it goes without saying this one is for gorehounds of the highest order only. La Petite Mort (which translates to “The Little Death” and is also another phrase for an orgasm, oddly enough) is about three travelers on holiday who find themselves mugged, eventually winding up at an underground club where the elite pay to be able to torture people. If this sounds like a German ripoff of Hostel… well, it pretty much is. If you’re down for extremely gory horror that isn’t afraid to try and make Eli Roth look like Woody Allen, this one will be right up your alley. Director Marcel Walz (Candy House, Popular) is no stranger to gruesome filmmaking, so his first collaboration with Ittenbach is must-see-tv for those who love the seedier side of horror.
The concept of technologically-assisted torture or snuff is discussed quite often in cinema, with numerous films delving into the potential of an underground world of killers and victims. While Hostel was one of the first mainstream films about the possibility that underground murder tourism existed, these concepts had been explored years before with films like Red Room, the Japanese film about snuff films created on the dark web. It’s rare, however, that movies with this concept are handled with such extremity, and La Petite Mort seeks to make this trip into the darkest recesses of the internet as disturbing, dark, and blood-soaked as possible. It’s a perfect fit for Unearthed Films, exactly the type of cinema you expect to get anytime you’re watching something from their catalogue.
The film has some flaws, namely the overly dark style of the cinematography, which I suppose is fitting for The Maison De La Petite Mort, the underground dungeon in which the worst of the film takes place. Thankfully for those looking for the gorier stuff, Walz manages to highlight every drop of blood that Ittenbach puts on screen regardless of the dearth of light sources. The audience gets to watch as optic nerves are sawed through, pins are inserted into bare flesh, and entrails are bathed in, the camera never panning away and deciding instead to revel in the grotesquerie. It also features one of the more realistic slit throats in cinema and a very special appearance by Santa Claus himself. Of course, what else would you expect from the German goremeisters? This ain’t Bambi, but even the more extreme entries in the Saw series never seemed to enjoy its pursuit of pain this much.
There is a certain amount of taste that must be left on the cutting room floor to produce a film like this. It’s easy to understand the critique that it’s terrifying that these films have an audience, and it’s not hard to understand why some feel these films should never be made. Rest assured, there is most certainly an audience for this type of film, and while I certainly try to limit my intake more than I used to, I’ve been known to partake in a bit of the ultraviolence from time to time. La Petite Mort is hopeless, nihilist German torture porn, and Walz and Ittenbach would have it no other way. If you’re lining up for this kind of extreme horror, you wouldn’t either. Some truly stylized shots help differentiate this one from other dingy films like it, and for those who are fans of the type of film that Unearthed Films releases as its bread and butter, this is a must-own. Check it out, and leave your modesty at the door.
Who this movie is for: Extreme horror fans, Gorehounds, People who thought Hostel pulled too many punches
Bottom line: A perfect fit for Unearthed Films’ filmography, La Petite Mort is German psychosexual torture porn done right. While it’s a bit dark at times (which one could argue is perfectly fitting the locale and subject matter), Marcel Walz delivers another disgustingly gory thrill ride through the darkest parts of humanity. This is happening to someone somewhere, and if you want to see what it really looks like when the upper crust gets to explore their most disturbing fantasies, give this one a watch. You won’t be disappointed, just make sure the kids aren’t around before pressing play. You can get your copy from Unearthed Films on December 13th.