The Bunny Game, 2010.
Directed by Adam Rehmeier.
Starring Rodleen Getsic, Jeff F. Renfro and Gregg Gilmore.
A prostitute accepts a ride from the wrong man and finds herself trapped and tortured.
It would appear that the horror genre is willingly sinking deeper and deeper into depravity in an attempt to shock, disgust and horrify. Of course, this is not a new statement to make. Perhaps most famously such claims were levelled at the exploitation films of the 1970s and 1980s, and particularly in Britain those films that found themselves on the video nasties list. Undoubtedly similar statements were made before, and have been made since, but the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) have found themselves grappling with some difficult decisions lately. Last year The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) was denied a certificate, essentially banning the film amidst much media coverage, and then shortly after released in cut form. Intriguingly, after this opinion-dividing decision and with almost no coverage whatsoever, The Bunny Game was also submitted to the BBFC for classification and found itself banned outright. It is still banned in the UK.
Before discussing the film itself, it is important to consider the reasoning behind its ban. The BBFC have historically been very uncomfortable with any use of sexual violence whatsoever. The fact that The Bunny Game thrives on its depiction of sexually violent imagery makes the ban less than surprising. However, thanks to the internet the BBFC's role is becoming somewhat redundant, and The Bunny Game is available for those who know where to look. Besides outright illegal material, I personally am against the restriction of material for an adult audience. Unfortunately, in the eyes of the BBFC, British adults aren't of a sound enough mind to distinguish fiction from reality.
In the case of The Bunny Game, fiction and reality is unusually mixed. The film depicts the miserable life of a prostitute - Bunny (Rodleen Getsic). Her days are spent sucking dick in exchange for blow. It is thanks to Rodleen Getsic's credible acting capabilities that we can clearly see this is a life Bunny does not enjoy. She's trapped in a vicious cycle of dependency which spirals out of control when she is picked up by a truck driver, Hog (Jeff F. Renfro), who chains Bunny up in the back of his truck and tortures her. The torture seen in this film was actually carried out on the actress, with her permission.
Undeniably there are certain scenes that are difficult to watch. Hog degrades Bunny, strips her, shaves her head, and in one particularly wince-inducing scene brands her with a hot iron. It is at this point where some audiences may understandably draw the line. How far an actor or actress should go for a role is a long-debated topic of discussion. Rodleen Getsic goes extremely far, yet director Adam Rehmeier thankfully doesn't request bloodshed.
There is a strong sadomasochistic tone to The Bunny Game, with both Bunny and Hog donning grotesque bondage gear at various points in the film. The majority of the action takes place in the back of Hog's truck, chronicling his mental and physical torture of Bunny. These scenes aren't just difficult to watch due to the brutality of the actions carried out, with Jeff F. Renfro showing no remorse, but are also painful because of dizzying, disorientating and downright annoying editing. The sound employed throughout is also irritating, a heavy metal influenced soundtrack that adds little to the overall atmosphere of the film. The entire film is shot in black and white, which is a useful technique to distance us from the action and make us aware that what we are watching is only a movie. But if the actress had to endure such an ordeal, I feel it is cheap allowing us an escape. This is a movie that should be far harder to watch than it actually is.
There are definitely comparisons to be made with Martyrs, a fantastic French horror film that succeeds in every aspect where The Bunny Game fails. Despite being well acted by both Rodleen Getsic and Jeff F. Renfro, neither of them are really given any form of characterisation. Unfortunately, this results in us not actually caring too much about Bunny's ordeal. Obviously it's fundamentally distressing seeing a woman being abused, but it is far more effective seeing a character we've grown to like and understand suffering. There are religious aspects hinted at, but director Adam Rehmeier never commits to any sort of message.
Whilst I disagree with the BBFC's decision to ban The Bunny Game, it really isn't a movie worth watching. It commits the worst possible movie sin - it bores. Perhaps those who revel in the sleaze of Rob Rotten's movies might possibly find something or worth here, but this really isn't a movie that should be enjoyed. It should have a powerful lasting impact. Sadly, for the movie to actually work on some level it requires a far better and coherent story and characters to get behind. Without those crucial elements this is nothing more than violence for the sake of it. The cast and crew involved may have found it a cathartic experience, but for an audience it's little more than the literal definition of torture porn - and who in their sound mind wants to see that?