Continuing Simon Augustine's countdown of the Most Disturbing Movies (Read Part 1 for the first 13). [<< #6]
5. The August Underground Trilogy (August Underground 2002, Mordum 2003, Penance 2007) 10/6 [link to request on GreenCine]
Wow, August Underground, you're a piece of work. All your best home movies include you and your psycho girlfriend running around, capturing unsuspecting victims, and dragging then to a basement or attacking them in their home and doing the most unspeakable things to them. (“Unspeakable” is one of those hyperbolic movie-critic stock words, like “unimaginable' or “jaw-dropping,” but not entirely accurate, because I'm about to speak a little bit about the unspeakable.) The trilogy plays like an extended and benumbing snuff movie as the two twentysomething killers videotape their gleeful and absolutely barren adventures in misanthropy.
Filmmaker Fred Vogel, who was once detained at the Canadian border within a van full of August Underground DVDs because the authorities thought he was transporting actual snuff films, does touch upon something essential about the unrepentant sadist that usually lurks at the very fringes of our most repressed fantasies about sex and violence; what he wants to do is capture that dark spirit as unleashed completely, and for the most part he succeeds.
The result is crude but irreparably powerful; you will be morally and viscerally exhausted at the end of one of these movies, let alone all three. And you will witness what most of us don't dare think about, the extreme behavior of absolutely deranged psycho-sexual serial killers: in the depths of the basement, August and his girlfriend (joined briefly by another psychotic friend) vomit and spit on, rape, torture and dismember average people, in unwavering, totally dedicated performances.
Vogel started as a special effects wiz, so the gore looks TOO real. Oh, and then there's the scene in which one of the psychos copulates with the innards of a flayed victim. In the last film, we see the killers ferociously attack a family on Christmas eve, including a little girl. There is also a pedophiliac killing in the series that is basically unwatchable. You will not be the same after this thing; it's the kind of film so convincing it makes you need to see the actors in real life just to reassure yourself about humanity: which I did, watching an interview with Vogel at a horror convention. Definitely a little off-kilter, but seemed like an affable enough fellow.
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