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.
The List So Far:
2) Starry Eyes
Without further ado, here is Dark Side Cinema’s Disturbing Movies of the Year, Number One:
Unrated – Indonesia and Japan
I had no idea what I was getting myself into with Killers, and that was probably a good thing.
Produced by the Mo Brothers, whose Raid films are some of the best action flicks around, Killers is a half-Japanese, half-Indonesian deathfest that includes a unique premise, some fantastic moments, and lots of gorgeous cinematography. This is one of the most original films I’ve seen in years and I enjoyed nearly every minute.
I should note that this is not the 2010 Katherine Heigl/Ashton Kutcher film, which is disturbing for entirely different reasons.
Killers is comprised of two intertwining stories. One plot involves Nomura, a Japanese psycho-sexual serial killer who picks up women and then tortures and murders them. He films their murders and puts them online for the world to see. The other plot involves Bayu, an Indonesian journalist who discovers Nomura’s videos and becomes obsessed with the idea of killing someone on camera.
Bayu has been trying to bring down a corrupt politician and it’s driving him a little crazy. He accidentally kills his first victim in self defense, but then films the man’s dying moments and uploads them onto the same site that Nomura uses. The two strike up a chatroom friendship and begin discussing murder like teenage girls discussing last night’s Gossip Girl.
The two plotlines continue on their own and the story is carefully edited so that their plot points sync up. When Bayu hunts down the politician’s greasy promoter and burns him alive, Nomura is picking up a prostitute to take home and kill. Each killer also has a love interest plot. Bayu is married and loves his wife and daughter very much, but they have separated because of Bayu’s over-dedication to his work. Throughout his story he is trying to make things right with his family, which makes him seem like a decent guy. Nomura is romancing a girl who he witnessed attempting to kill her autistic younger brother one night. His story is definitely less sympathetic, although he treats the boy with unusual kindness for most of their screen time together. (Until he suggests that she kill him anyway because “it would be kinder”, but hey, he’s a psycho.)
What’s interesting about watching the two killer’s individual storylines is how different they are. Nomura’s killing style is methodical and practiced, while Bayu’s is random and messy. Nomura kills young women who seemingly have done nothing more than crossed paths with the wrong guy. Bayu kills corrupt politicians and their cronies, all of whom are terrible people. (The assistant he burned alive was a pedophile, for example). It provides two very different perspectives on what is essentially the same thing – serial killing.
This movie is ridiculously violent. It’s all very realistic and done with skill and great production value. Many of the scenes are brutally scary and/or tense and the gore is gag-inducing. One particular scene early on shows Nomura disposing of a body with acid and it’s a thousand times grosser than anything attempted on Breaking Bad.
Despite being such a dark movie, Killers has a few moments of humor that offer respite from the otherwise bleak plot. One scene in particular involving Nomura and a prostitute that escapes his trunk while the police are ten feet away was so good I had to rewind it and watch it again.
When Nomura and Bayu talk to one another, they do so in stilted English. This is good in some ways because subtitles are no longer required for those parts, but it also makes their acting feel a bit stiff. Then again, since both men only use English to speak to one another, their speech would be halted much like it is in the movie. It worked for me and made more sense than if Nomura magically spoke Indonesian or vice-versa.
In addition to being well-acted with a unique and fantastic script, Killers is pretty. Every single shot is like artwork. The lighting, color correction, framing… everything is spot on. The score is not particularly memorable but does what it’s supposed to, which is to drive tension.
The movie feels a little long in places, but it has to be because it’s really two full storylines converging into one. Both Bayu and Nomura get a great deal of character development and exposition and by the time the two finally meet in real life, you are genuinely invested in these characters one way or the other.
I still don’t know how I feel about the ending, so I can’t comment much on that. The ending is pretty predictable and turns into more of an action movie than a thriller, but it works well enough. The final shot made me laugh, and because much of the film is a commentary on desensitization to violence in media, I think that’s what they were going for.
Violence: 9/10. Pretty much every kind of violence you can think of is here in some form or another.
Sex: 3/10. Nomura has sexytimes with a victim, Bayu makes out with his wife. That’s about it.
Entertainment value: 8/10. The movie is either engrossing, funny, or disturbing at any one point, so it’s definitely entertaining.
This movie is for: Anyone who reads the description and thinks it might be interesting. It’s a very different kind of film and it’s not for everyone, but those who like ultraviolent buddy stories should enjoy it.
Overall rating: 8/10. I really enjoyed Killers, and I didn’t think I was going to after the first fifteen minutes or so. It really grew on me as a film and I began to really care about Bayu. I was fascinated by Nomura and even though I loathed him as a person, I was entranced by his story. The disturbing elements in this movie are varied and vast – this is not the kind of movie you really want to watch with anyone else in the room, and that’s why it is the most disturbing movie of 2014.