It’s almost Christmas, which means it’s time for all kinds of great year-end countdowns. Christmas means spending time with loved ones, getting hammered, and binge-watching movies and television, at least for me. With a new year and lots of new disgusting, demented content around the corner, it’s time for Dark Side Cinema’s Top Five of 2014. These are the five most depraved, disturbing bits of film that I’ve enjoyed and/or endured that came out this year. To be included in this list, the film had to have a 2014 U.S. release date and fit the general Dark Side Cinema criteria. In addition to being disturbing, each of these films offers up a little something extra, a Christmas present for one type of disturbing cinema fan or another.
Without further ado, here is Dark Side Cinema’s Disturbing Movies of the Year, Number Five:
Rated R – Scotland
It seems appropriate to start this off with a Christmas movie, and while this isn’t your traditional tale of redemption and snowflakes, it still fits the bill.
Filth, based on the Ir vine Welsh novel of the same title, is a brutally smart dark comedy about a crooked cop suffering a mental breakdown. The dialogue is reminiscent of Welsh’s most famous work stateside, Trainspotting, but this is a unique bastard of a tale, this time from the side of the police instead of the junkies.
The protagonist, Bruce, is played with absolute brilliance by James McAvoy. Bruce is quite possibly one of the biggest assholes in the history of cinema and yet he is so utterly charming and entertaining that it’s hard not to be rooting for the guy. Whether he’s lewdly prank calling his best friend’s wife, freaking out at his psychiatrists’ office, or getting drunk with his mates and getting into trouble, there’s something likeable about Bruce. He’s the devil on our shoulder we know not to listen to and we get to live vicariously through his debauchery.
Filth starts off being really, really fun. There are moments where Bruce goes too far, but they are usually over quick and he’s back to charming the pants off of everything. About fifteen minutes into the movie he convinces an underage girl to give him a blowjob so that he won’t tell her rich father that she was having underage sex. It’s super creepy but over in moments when he pushes her away and says her technique is “like a cheese grater”. The moment is easily forgotten and Bruce’s depravity seems all in good fun.
The first half of the movie is genuinely funny, even if the humor is a bit mean. There are some great jokes and gags and McAvoy is having so much fun that you just can’t help but have fun with him.
The plot revolves around a promotion that Bruce is convinced he has to get. He needs it to impress his wife, Carole, who is mysteriously only ever seen in dream-like sequences where she speaks directly to the viewers. Bruce is given his ultimate chance to impress and get the promotion when he is put on a murder case and is in charge of tracking down the lead suspects. He spends a great deal of time getting drunk and doing drugs and having kinky sex with random women, so his investigation goes about as well as you think it would.
What makes the first half of Filth so utterly entrancing is the manic pace it takes, bouncing from Bruce’s imagination to actual events and back again with snappy dialogue and the kind of editing that will give you whiplash. The whole thing feels like a coke-and-acid induced fever dream narrated by a cop that wishes he were a rock star instead. It’s intense and it’s very funny and it’s fantastic.
Bruce’s mind begins unraveling pretty quickly and the imaginative sequences start getting weirder and darker. There’s some pretty terrible guilt going on in that warped mind, and the movies takes its time revealing the sources of all of that guilt. He also sees a psychiatrist who pushes him to take more pills and behave even worse, and it is entirely possible that the doctor doesn’t even exist.
Watching the madness unfold and the story unravel is what makes Filth great – it’s a downward spiral into depravity that starts out being a great deal of fun and ends with nausea and dizziness. By the time the credits roll, the viewer is left asking themselves what the hell just happened.
The last twenty minutes blew my mind and I refuse to spoil that for anyone here – you’ll just have to check it out yourselves.
So what’s disturbing about Filth? There’s a lot of things that seem disturbing on the surface: ephebophilia, creepy imagination sequences, massive amounts of drug use, weird and kinky sex, and plenty more. What’s actually disturbing about the film is the way it sinks its teeth into you and you sympathize with Bruce more and more even as his own evils are revealed. This movie doesn’t play fair.
Violence: 3/10 Really not that violent. Only one actually violent scene and it’s pretty cop-movie typical.
Sex: 9/10 Boobies. Boobies everywhere. Also lots of sex, some of it unfortunate.
Entertainment value: 8/10 It starts out a lot more fun than where it ends up, but it’s still enthralling from beginning to end.
This movie is for: Dark comedy fans, fans of Welsh’s work in general, anyone who watches the trailer and enjoys it
Overall rating: 8/10 I love Filth. I can’t even pretend otherwise. It’s probably one of the tamest entries on this year’s top five, which is why it’s here instead of higher up. It’s dark, it’s funny, and it made me feel things, which is pretty impressive, I think.