Listen, I love movies. I’ve loved them for as long as I can remember. And I’ll watch almost any genre — comedy, drama, romance, action, suspense, you name it and I’ll bring the popcorn. But there is one genre I don’t love. In fact, I would have to say I hate it. And, for the life of me, I can’t understand why it has become so popular. That’s right, I’m talking about the incomprehensible trend of torture porn, otherwise adorably referred to as gorno.
I speak of the Saws and Hostels of the world, not to mention the upcoming flick Captivity, whose oh-so subtle tagline is “ABDUCTION CONFINEMENT TORTURE TERMINATION.” When did going to glorified snuff films become a fun way to spend a Saturday night?
It’s not just the death that’s the problem. Horror films come with body counts, and that’s just part of the game. But this new breed of gleeful murder movies both sexualizes and dehumanizes the act to such a degree that one has to wonder what, exactly, makes this entertaining? Before, scary movies were about the things that go bump in the night. Now they are about the ways the things that go bump in the night kill you and how much you suffer while they’re doing it.
As Rose McGowan told Rolling Stone recently, “All they do now is think about ways to torture women, primarily. I don’t really get that. What is this, a manual for young, budding serial killers?”
Both Captivity and Hostel: Part II have already created controversy for their graphic content and questionable publicity campaigns. Billboards that read as a how-to guides for kidnapping, torture and murder? Hey, they break up the commute. And a poster with a naked actress clutching her severed head like the latest handbag? Well, at least the rest of her looks good.
I feel particularly bad for the actresses involved. Pity poor Heather Matarazzo (that’s Stacy “The Vagina Wig” Merkin to you, me and Jenny Schecter). The out actress had the pleasure of being bound, gagged, and hung upside down naked in a scene that is already drawing the ire of critics. The L Word must not pay its guestbians well enough.
I don’t begrudge the entire horror genre. It can’t all be talking dogs and precocious teens lighting up the screens at the Cineplex. I know they’re just movies and no actual actresses were harmed, dismembered or brutalized in the making of these pictures. But this isn’t about the thrill of a good scare, it’s about the thrill of a good kill. And that, my friends, is just sick.