Dir. Marcel Walz (2014)
A sequel to the original film that takes a bit of a different approach, this mockumentary follows the owners of the torture dungeon Maison de la petite mort as they wreak havoc on a new round of victims.
CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
German torture porn is really unlike any in the world, existing as a standalone horror subgenre that has run fairly strong since Jorg Buttgereit made Nekromantik in 1987. Unlike the American take on the genre, torture porn in Germany is, through most modern history, the predominant category of films that most horror fans will be familiar with. The aforementioned Buttgereit, along with contemporaries Andreas Schnaas, Andreas Bethmann, and Olaf Ittenbach, helped to bring extreme German horror into the closest thing to mainstream they could attain, delighting fans the world over with copious blood, guts, and the occasional hardcore sex scene (lookin’ at you, Bethmann.) These legendary goremeisters have paved the way for a new breed of German splatter directors like Marian Dora, Timo Rose, and Marcel Walz, who make better-looking (though not necessarily better) films with more compelling plots, often better acting, and with production values that rival lower-grade American horror films. Walz’ La Petite Mort was previously released by Unearthed Films, who have also stepped up to bring his differently-aimed sequel to American bluray for the first time and were kind enough to let me check this one out as well. I enjoyed the first film, at least for what it was, so I was definitely interested in seeing how far he would go in his follow-up effort.
La Petite Mort 2 is filmed like a promotional video for Maison de la petite mort, a torture dungeon where people can pay to watch other people get tortured, and perhaps to join in on the torture themselves. The choice to present the film this way is a good one, allowing Walz to focus on the things that he’s best at (showing horrific torture on-screen) without worrying about much of that plot nonsense that tends to bog down the more brutal indie filmmakers. This time around, Ryan Nicholson (Gutterballs) joins the crew to run the effects team, creating a more polished (and consequently less gritty) gore aesthetic than the Ittenbach-created effects from the first film. Don’t be mistaken, there’s still plenty of grit to go around, because this is a dirty, nasty, mean-spirited film with enough guts and gore to make the most hardened gorehound shiver his timbers. The mockumentary style of the film, which borders on infomercial as much as documentary, is unique and interesting, a glossier version of the type of stuff Fred Vogel usually makes. Thankfully, unlike Vogel’s August Underground series, there’s no grainy realness here: this stuff is in bright, shiny color that looks like it was made this century with an honest-to-God movie camera rather than a handheld camcorder left over from family vacation.
The downside of choosing to make the film the way that he did is that Walz’ sequel has even less of an appeal to a general audience than the first film. If you’re not all in on gore, and are ok with watching films solely because of it, then this one won’t be for you at all. It’s a great idea for a film, but it’s not exactly a plot per se. The concept of making almost like a demo reel, but cleverly working it into the framework of the organization at the core of the original La Petite Mort film, is brilliant, and Walz doesn’t hesitate to make things as disturbing as they are bloody. The aesthetic of the film, drenched in red lights and industrial décor, is perfect for the pseudo-fetish dungeon, and really helps to give the film the look that you would expect a lace like Maison de la petite mort to have. Ironically, though the vast majority of the film’s runtime is dedicated to the torture of unwilling participants, it is the self-mutilation that brings the film to a close that is the most disconcerting of all.
While there’s not a whole lot more here than just a relatively simple gore film, what there is is done damn well. The acting is fantastic for a film like this, and you can almost find yourself believing that the stars of the show really do this shit on their days off. Ryan and Megan Nicholson’s effects are stellar, providing wince-worthy kills that never pull any punches. Finally, Walz’ eye for the camera is unflinching, delivering a more-than-worthy sequel that outclasses the original in every way. While the first film felt dirtier than it felt good, this one feels like a unique and original take on a genre that wore out its welcome long ago. Marcel Walz recently announced a new production company with Sarah French (who we interviewed) and writer Joe Knetter called Neon Noir, and I absolutely can’t wait to see what they come up with. I’ll be first in line to buy tickets.
Who this movie is for: Torture porn fanatics, Gore-lovers of the highest order, Catalog shoppers
Bottom line: Gory, unflinching and disturbing as all hell, La Petite Mort 2: Nasty Tapes improves on the original in just about every way. Ryan and Megan Nicholson’s effects are outstanding and well worth the price of admission, and every bit of the film works for what its intended to do. The major critique of the film is that it is just a gore film, and if that’s not your thing, this one is absolutely not going to be for you. There’s not a whole lot of plot outside of the frequent killing, but you’re not watching a film like this if that’s not what you were here for anyway. If you like good gore more than you like good story, you owe it to yourself to check this one out. It’s coming out tomorrow on bluray from Unearthed Films, they’ll send it right to your home and you don’t even have to leave your couch! Click here to order.