THE DEPRAVED (2011)
The Depraved is a German horror thriller from Andy Fetscher that’s only points of real interest is being filmed in the miles of underground tunnels beneath Berlin and some moody cinematography. The completely derivative story has a group of hipster urban explorers being led down into the tunnels for what they hope is a thrilling night of exploration to find Hitler’s bunker and instead run into a deranged cannibal who tortures, murders and turns some of them into stew. We’ve seen it all before countless times and while the novel setting adds some atmosphere and actor Klaus Stiglmeier provides a very creepy villain, the rest of the characters are completely generic and and the story is too familiar to get us very excited. There is plentiful and well orchestrated gore and cool locations but, it never reaches an intensity that will make us forget that we have already sat through this “Chainsaw Massacre” story many times before. A mildly amusing flick if you are curious or a completest in the young people vs. crazed cannibals sub-genre.
BIG BAD WOLVES (2014)
Once again the internet hype machine is at work and once again we have a major disappointment. This Israeli crime thriller from filmmakers Navot Papushado and Aharon Keshales tells the story of a cop (Lior Ashkenazi) who is thrown off a case involving abused and murdered little girls for beating up the suspect (Tzahi Grad) and having the incident go viral on Youtube. But, both he and the latest victim’s father (Rotem Keinan) both seperately plan to kidnap the school teacher suspect and torture a confession out of him and they eventually team up, at least at the start, as predictably… and the film can be predictable… things don’t quite go as planned. After a fairly slow set-up we then get a tedious and dull hour of watching a man strapped to a chair get tortured and terrorized all leading up to an ending that is far from surprising. There are some failed attempts at giving the film a hip sense of humor to go along with the vicious violence but, it only serves to stop any momentum the film has dead. And since none of the characters are likable or sympathetic… as I said we can see early on where this is headed and the question as to guilt and innocence is foolishly revealed early on… we never really get emotionally invested or really care. And the few times the film starts to build a bit of intensity, it stops dead for those lame attempts at humor, such as a call from a principal characters mother right in the middle of a torture session. Ha, ha, ha … epic fail! The film also stops dead twice to make commentary on Arab/Israeli relations in the form of an Arab man (Kais Nashif) encountered on a horse who ultimately has no effect on the story or plot other then to provide a convenient cellphone at one point. Again, just serves to stretch this one note flick out longer then it needs to be and it’s at least 15 minutes too long considering it’s simple story. The filmmakers are no Tarantinos or even Eli Roths and their constant attempts to make this a ‘violent yet, hip and cool’ crime drama just slow things down and add to the boredom. I really can’t understand the praise this film is getting, including from Quentin Tarantino himself. Boring and we’ve basically seen it all before and better done. Acting is good from the leads but, that’s about it.