Gerald’s Game – Jessie’s Escape
Another totally unhinged Stephen King adaptation, this time from Oculus and Hush’s Mike Flanagan, Gerald’s Game has a whole lot more to it than meets the eye. The base set-up – a woman left handcuffed to a bed after her husband has a heart-attack mid-sex – barely scrapes the surface of just how horrifying it gets. But still, its finest and nastiest moment comes from something as simple as a very visceral bit of gore. Driven to the very edges of her own sanity, Carla Gugino’s expertly-played Jessie finally makes a break for it, using broken glass to cut away the skin on her wrist and free her hand. And the result is something unflinchingly gruesome, that’ll give even regular horror hounds a once-over.
mother! – The Body of Christ
Not an awful-lot of people really seemed to “get” Darren Aronofsky’s latest hail-Mary stab at horror, but you didn’t actually have to understand what was going on metaphorically to feel the full force of its bleakest moment. In a film chocked full of positively shocking behaviour (she said don’t sit on the sink, so don’t sit on the bloody sink!) mother!’s nastiest turn came somewhere near the calamitous third act, where J-Law’s long-awaited baby is finally born, before being snatched away from her by her husband’s huge and violent fan-base. Passed around like it’s a beach-ball at a Foo Fighters concert, the baby very quickly has its neck broken and dies. Yeah, there aren’t words.
Killing Ground – The Final Shot
It would be exceedingly easy to just list the entire plot of ozploitation horror Killing Ground as its reason for being here. It’s a truly unflinching watch, right up to the total kicker of a final shot, but for time-sake, let’s shine a light mostly on that ending. A couple find themselves facing off with a pair of savage rapists/murderers in the Australian wilderness, with no one but themselves for back-up, and when faced with the opportunity of saving his fiancée or making a break for it, newly-engaged Ian runs for the hills.
Somewhere along the way, both we as an audience, and Ian’s soon-to-be-wife Sam, make sense of it by assuming he did so to save a dying child they had found in the woods earlier on. Come the end though, when the couple both emerge very much alive, Ian makes it clear he was really just escaping. And as he finally comes to in a hospital bed, Sam stands over him with the darkest, sternest, most heartbroken look imaginable. It’s a totally shattering final image that leaves a tremendously sour taste in the mouth for hours, even days after the credits have rolled.
Brawl in Cell Block 99 – The Brawl in Cell Block 99
Finally, not just the cherry on the cake that is this list, but the icing, the filling and probably a hefty portion of the dough used to make it too – S. Craig Zahler’s Brawl In Cell Block 99 happily runs away with the title of Nastiest Movie of 2017, hands down. Building slowly, from some fairly bleak family drama, into an even bleaker call-to-misadventure, Vince Vaughn’s well-respected tough-nut Bradley is really put through his paces as the film presses on, forced to stir up all sorts of mayhem in order to get himself incarcerated in what can only be described as the most barbaric prison in the known galaxy.
And if being strapped with a totally debilitating shock collar and thrown in a cavernous cell littered with broken glass wasn’t quite enough, Bradley is dealt with the very harshest of final cards. His end goal, the very reason he had been bending other prisoners over backwards (literally) to reach the ominously titled Cell Block 99, was a lie. So naturally, he turns the tables on the bad guys and offers up one of the most savage beat-downs we’ve ever seen, disfiguring one henchman so badly, his skull shows through his flesh. Beautifully grisly. So grisly in fact, you’ll be wanting to shower straight after.
Ben Robins / @BMLRobins