Tuesday, October 25, 2011

'Goregoyles 2' has something for all horror fans

Goregoyles 2 (2007)
Starring: Marco Calliari, Sebastien Croteau, Martin Dubriell, Eric Therrien, and Chantrel Petrin ("Clean" segment); John Muggleton, Tara MacKenzie, Ryan Greenacre, Brett Kelly, and Mark Singleton ("The Walkers" segment); Eric Therrien, Isabelle Stephen, and Sylvain Dinelle (Host segments)
Directors: Alexandre Michaud and Nigel Finlayson
Rating: Seven of Ten Stars

"Goregoyles 2" is Canadian director/producer Alexandre Michaud's follow-up to "Goregoyles: First Cut", and, like its predecessor, it's an anthology film.

While there's nothing that quite reaches the high-points of the best parts of the original "Goregoyles", there's also nothing here that's as mind-crushingly awful as the original's low-points. The quality level is consistent across all the parts that make up this package.

Another noteworthy thing here is that the directors responsible for the content here obviously have a sense of how to make a low-budget film. In the case of Michaud, he knows that when making a splatter-fest (which is the best way to describe his contribution here), the budget needs to be spent on making the blood and guts look good.. but he also knows that he doesn't have the money (or maybe even access to the technical know-how) to make truly complicated gore effects look good, so he knows to not let the camera dwell upon them. Even better, neither film overreaches the limitations of the modest budgets they were made within. That alone makes the efforts praiseworthy, and it shows that Michaud and Miles Finlayson understand how to work with limited budgets. That puts them in a class that 90 percent of horror filmmakers out should aspire to being in... and that 90 percent would be well-served to use the work here as a model for their own.

"Goregoyles 2" consists of two short features and introductory host segments. The DVD I screened also contained an interview with directors Michaud and Finlayson. I'll address each part in turn, assign a rating to each, which in the end averages out to the Seven-star rating I've given the entire package.

First, the host segments. Like in Michaud's first anthology film, each part of "Goregoyles" is introduced by a Crypt Keeper-like host. Here it's Uncle Vicious (Therrien), and he offers general comments on each upcoming film while showing off his sadistic sexual tendencies. These are servicable, if tacky, bits of film, although I liked the wittier, more informative introductions from the original "Goregoyles". The best part here was the "Farewell from Uncle Vicious" segment where Therrien (joined by Michaud and the boom-mike operator) demolish the set while Isabelle Stephen go-go dances topless in the background to blaring hard rock. I only wish the other segments had been so amusing. Still, they were okay, so the host segments get a rating of Six Stars.

The first film in the package is "Clean". It's a strange, gory picture that stars Marco Calliari as Crane, a brutal murderer who has hooked up with other sexual psychopaths through an Internet chat room, and has been invited to their once-a-year, face-to-face gathering. Like the rest of them, he's there for the beer and brutal slayings... but he has a different sort of victims in mind than his fellow "hobbyists." The hunters become the hunted as Crane sets out to wipe the slate clean.

Although "Clean" is the sort of movie I usually give low marks to (if I bother reviewing it at all)--it's full of horrible violence and gore, hateful characters, and utterly humorless--I actually like this one. Unlike the ever-growing wave of movies that feature violence and brutality for no reason other than to feature violence and brutality (all the various "Saw" imitators), "Clean" doesn't attempt to make the violence look sexy, nor does it attempt to entertain the viewer with it. Here, the violence is presented as horrible and ugly, and anyone but people like the characters who have gathered to watch a female captive (Petrin) to be tortured to death will almost certainly have to avert their eyes as it unfolds on screen. (I certainly couldn't watch as Joe--played with perfect hideouslness by Sebastien Croteau--sliced the poor girl with a razorblade and then poured salt and Tabasco sauce into her open wounds.)

The people who commit the heinous acts aren't at all glamorous or witty... they are utterly repulsive, reprehensible and boorish, including our "hero", Crane. I thought "Clean" is an excellent response to the wave of "torture porn" films that will, hopefully, soon crest, crash on the shore, and retreat; it's well past the time for another fad to take hold in the horror genre. Well-paced and well-acted, I give this film a Six Star rating.

The second film presented is "The Walkers". It tells the story of Mr. and Mrs. Walker (Greenacre and MacKenzie), a sociopathic married couple and would-be "Bonnie and Clyde" who get lost in a trackless Canadian forest along with two police officers (Muggleton and Kelly) who are pursuing them. The four of them spend a week in the wilderness, struggling to survive, until stress and fear drives all of them mad.

"The Walkers" is the best part of "Goregoyles 2". It's a smart horror movie that's imbued with a sense of oppression, dispair and growing anxiety throughout, and which is driven by a well-written script and some good acting on the part of the featured players. John Muggleton is particularly good as the jaded cop who finds himself stripped of a very important last hope while attempting to find his way out of the forest.

The violence in this film is sparse, so gorehounds who grooved on the level of splatter and guts that was featured in "Clean" may be dissapointed in "The Walkers". However, what violence that we do get is shocking and impactful, so those who like their horror movies with more substance than gore will appreciate this second feature far more than the first. In fact, "Goregoyles 2" covers both ends of the horror movie spectrum under one banner, ranging from a nearly pure blood-and-guts splatter-fest to an almost violence-free psychological horror film. "The Walkers" gets Seven Stars, and I hope to come across other work by Miles Finlayson in the future.

Finally, the DVD contains a discussion between directors Miles Finlayson and Alexandre Michaud as they kill a few beers. Like the interviews on the original "Goregoyles" DVD, this is an interesting bit of film that gives the viewer insight into the process of not only making the film at hand, but also revisits "Goregoyle: First Cut" and Michaud's notorious underground film "Urban Flesh". It's something that aspiring filmmakers in particular would do well to watch. This "DVD Extra" gets a Six Star rating as well.

With the range that is covered genre-wise in "Goregoyles 2", I think any horror fan will find something to like here. And I particuarly recommend this anthology film for those horror fans out there who think they can make their own movie. Goregoyles 2 Directors: Alexandre Michaud and Miles Finlayson.

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