I was obviously aware of the numerous torture scenes in both Saw and Hostel (I wrote a bit about the latter movie here), but I had no idea that scenes of onscreen brutality were such the rage; apparently graphic torture scenes have made their way into the home as well, on such shows as Alias, 24, Nip/Tuck, Lost, and Prison Break.
Undoubtedly, this is just another burdgeoning trend in Horror Movie Land. Torture flicks step carefully into the limelight as the more sanitary I Know What You Did...-style flicks fade from view. Color me uninterested, no matter what grandiose statements Eli Roth claims to make with his bloody thrill-kill efforts. Speaking about Hostel, Roth says:
Right now we're at war, and then you have Hurricane Katrina, where there are people on roofs screaming for help. I have this feeling that civilization could collapse, and that if you go overseas, you could get killed, that you could be in the middle of nowhere, and that someone could kill you and no one would find you.
I think the whole "(lost) in the middle of nowhere, someone kill(s) you, no one finds you" idea is interesting. In fact, I thought the idea was put to great effect in The Blair Witch Project, which was a violence-free movie. So why do we need the onscreen torture? Why do we need to dwell on human suffering?
Everyone's life has a price. I want the audience to feel guilty. I want them to feel sick to their stomach, but by the end they're screaming for blood. Everyone has this evil within them.Hmm. I don't think I would ever rejoice while watching someone being brutally tortured, even if it was "The Bad Guy". Dude, I know what it sounds like when doves cry, OK? However, again, the whole "Ha ha! You have a dark side!" idea could be explored extensively. But it only works if you make the audience realize they've got a bloodlust, if you actually do make them feel guilty about it. Otherwise, it's as Thomas Doherty (chairman of the film studies program at Brandeis University) says in the article's conclusion:
"What we're seeing now is a pornography of violence for creative imaginations."
So what about these movies and TV shows? Do they make the audience feel anything beyond a morbid thrill at watching torture? Are they just a big, bloody, onscreen wank? Honestly, I wouldn't know, because I'm just not into the whole realistic, prolonged human suffering for entertainment thing.
Ah, well. The face of horror is changing, yet again. Call me when the next trend hits, unless it involves line dancing or wearing sweatpants in public...I'd have to pass on that one, too.