Ben Robins on the nastiest movie moments of 2017…
It’s been a banner year for fairly disgusting things on-screen. No real guesses as to why, but we’re not here to slave over the reasons. We’re here to simply recount, and to celebrate.
From FrightFest-backed horrors, to gonzo arthouse dealings and even the occasional indie weepy, this year’s rundown of the grimiest and grisliest goings-on in film is actually, for the first time in a while, a little over-stuffed. And it’s not all just visceral gore either, 2017 saw a whole bunch of seriously effective psychological thrillers throwing their hat in the ring too, not to mention the occasional bit of dark humour. So without much further ado, and in no particular order…
*The following may contain spoilers*
Raw – The Finger
Originally hitting the festival circuit in 2016, Julia Ducournau’s coming-of-age cannibal horror was a serious breakout hit this year when it was finally released more widely. And although it had a lot of standout moments, none quite rank alongside its lead’s first real taste of human flesh. Following a female grooming incident gone wrong (which in any other year would probably make this list on its own), Justine’s sister Alexia loses a finger and passes out from the shock. Soon after which Justine decides to wrestle away said severed appendage from the dog, and give it a little nibble herself. Everything about the way Ducournau composes the moment, from her framing, to Garance Marillier’s playful delivery, to the Hans-Zimmer-on-crack-style scoring is positively stunning, in the grossest way imaginable.
The Belko Experiment – Dany’s End
Remember old James Gunn, from before his family-friendly days steering galaxy-hopping bandits through the Marvel-verse? SUPER and Slither era James Gunn, who just had the wildest, nastiest sense of humour around? The guy who made Humanzee? Well, it turns out he’s still in there somewhere, and this year’s Office Space/Battle Royale mash-up The Belko Experiment (scripted and produced by Gunn, directed by Wolf Creek’s Greg McLean) is proof.
In a film about office workers murdering each other, the nastiest moment actually comes from something fairly throwaway. Melonie Diaz’s new girl Dany starts as a bit of an audience conduit, and once the bloodletting takes hold, she really seems to nail the whole survival thing, keeping low. The way Gunn structures the film, it’s like he’s flagging her as a surprise final girl, the one who’ll pop out of the woodwork just before the credits roll. We’re really rooting for her. And then, totally out of nowhere, the elevator she’s hiding in opens and boom, the plucky young favourite just gets shot in the head, like it’s nothing. You can almost hear Gunn giggling in the background as it happens. Nasty humour at its height.
The Killing of a Sacred Deer – Martin Gets Away With It
Into something much more psychological now, and we really must stress that if you’re still yet to see Yorgos Lanthimos’s seriously grim The Killing of a Sacred Deer, stop reading now, because we are about to spoil the absolute gut-puncher of an ending. Good? Good.
Sacred Deer is the perfect example of a film that shines brightest when it’s at its most uncomfortable, and the key to the whole thing is a totally deranged performance from newbie Barry Keoghan. By the end, Colin Farrell’s been cornered by Keoghan’s Martin (a figure so evil he makes Ramsay Bolton pale in comparison), forced to kill a member of his own suburban family. After doing so at random (by literally lining them all up in the living room and spinning around in a circle blindly with a hunting rifle), said family, now minus their dearly departed youngest child, head out for food at a local diner. Where they see, none other than the very boy who put them in this mess. Lanthimos doesn’t allow us even the tiniest speck of catharsis with this one, it’s a horrible ending to a horrible film about horrible people, and you’ll definitely want to run off and ring your loved ones once it’s done.
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