Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Son of Terror (2008)

Fear 1/5
Gore 2/5
Entertainment 2/5
Creepiness 3/5

Weird. Disorienting. All over the place. Son of Terror is a film that is high on concept but it's something that just gets much too muddy and confusing for my taste by films end.

The film begins after a preacher gives a sermon which then quickly cuts to a skinny old man. Looking ever so creepy this side of a Tool video, he's preparing for his nightly ritual of preying on the homeless in the streets of downtown Seattle. After disposing of this night's prey, we are met with a cowboy-like police officer and a quirky pair of body removing funeral home owners.

Shifting now to a man who's a struggling artist, we come upon him as he meets his girlfriend and another woman at a bar for some drinks. We come to find that the other woman had been a photographed subject for our artist. A very strange and awkward conversation ensues between them with innuendos abounding. This sets off his girlfriend and she walks out.

Confused yet? At this point, every event seems to be happening at random with no real rhyme or reason for any of the character's interactions. In addition to very little character development and awkward transitions from scene to scene, a series of (seemingly) random events continue as the film progresses: the artist's roommate pulls a gun on him, he has these odd flashbacks, and a very weird bit of dialogue ensues with the cowboy police officer. All the while, the serial killers continued reign of terror runs in parallel.

The problem for me is in the film's 'resolution.' At a point in the story where I thought I was making some sense of this with the idea that maybe the lives of the killer and artist would merge (with them being one in the same), I was lead to believe otherwise as the gun pulling roommate calls the old man a performance artist and completely harmless. So when the credits rolled after a dramatic showdown with our artist (who's now become increasingly paranoid) and the police, I was left with more questions than answers.

Corresponding with writer/director Antony De Gennaro via email, he revealed to me the inspiration behind the film: the homeless in Seattle and more broadly, those who are afflicted with mental illness. We are supposed to be viewing the film through the lense of our artist as he slowly devolves into insanity with each feeling, emotion, action and reaction all being a part of his deteriorating state of mind. He wrote the film from the perspective of characters already having been developed so its more incumbent upon the viewer to figure things out. The main influence for him being the works of David Lynch.

A film this conceptual, at least for me, asks too much of the viewer in order to 'get' it. That being said, just because I didn't enjoy the film on first pass doesn't mean you won't. After talking to Antony via email, I can now appreciate the film a little more in what it was trying to accomplish. And now I want to revisit it (which says something since we've seen a lot of shitty films on this site). So if you like your horror film's more conceptual and artistic than most, this just might be your cup o' tea.

Cortez the Killer

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Chris Hallock said...

I'm pretty interested in seeing this. I like things that are a little more open to interpretation. Not saying you aren't, but sometimes it's hit or miss with this kind of filmmaking style.

At the very least, that skinny older fellow looks really creepy.

Cortez The Killer said...

Chris, I hear ya buddy. By no means am I trying to discourage anyone from seeing it. It may have a different effect on other folks than it did me (at least at first pass). And as mentioned, it wasn't so incredibly unwatchable as to not want to give it another shot.

And the skinny old dude was definitely creepy, enhanced ever so by the way in which he moved which was really odd and disorienting.