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STUDIO: Tartan Video
RUNNING TIME: 91 min
• Interviews w/ director and star
• Theatrical trailer
"It’s reverse-Hostel meets American Psycho! The pen is mightier than the chainsaw."
Fernando Acaso, Maria Jose Bausa
Antonio Frau (Acaso) has an unfortunate name, if he were a German. It’s reasonable to assume that because his surname labels him as a woman, he turns to a life of crime. Not just any crime, mind you, but the really nasty, premeditated, prostitute-mangling kind. It’s not just for kicks, though; he’s out to make a name for himself, to become immortal in the annals of applied philosophy. To that end, he records a handy little journal with a little help from David Fincher’s production team.
In the first five minutes of H6, director Martin Garrido Baron handily sets the tone for the whole film. This was awfully nice of him. If you don’t react well to this first sequence, you will be like baking soda doused in vinegar for the rest of the running time. In these few, conservative shots, a bit of a domestic squabble escalates from an impassioned argument to a prolonged murder by strangling. The camera is unflinching; the acting is convincing; the act is brutal.
The kiwi does not approve of this brutality.
It’s this brutality that become the film’s fingerprints. My pet theory is, as there are different levels of autism, so are there varied degrees of brutishness. Antonio Frau happens to be a high-level brute, functional, but incapable of reaching more sophisticated methods of conflict resolution than simple murder.
I guess I shouldn’t call it "simple." Antonio puts an awful lot of thought into his hobby. Not only in the executions (which are harrowing in their straightforward depiction,) but also in the reasoning behind them. Antonio wants to be immortal. His ego is astronomically large, as is common in psychopaths, and he bends it toward the effort of living up to the great sadists in history. He also undertakes his little games in order to educate people. His choice of subject matter is odd; he wants his victims to appreciate family, because "family is the most important thing."
Fight the temptation, Sex subforum. Fight it.
Despite the protagonist’s pedantic bent, the horror portrayed in H6 is far more clinical and observational than it is philosophical. Some horror goes for sensation (The Devil’s Rejects,) some for edification (The Devil’s Backbone,) but this falls into another category entirely: it’s horror that aims to be horrific. There are tacit condemnations of behavior associated with focusing so much time on a sociopathic character, but nothing that forms a backbone for the plot. Instead, it’s a cinematic example of imagining spinning through the dark places. It’s less of a structured journey, and more of a terrifying exploration.
Are you tired of critics listing off the various scary sequences they’ve endured with nary a shudder, in order to legitimize their declarations of terror over X piece of horror? "I took a shower directly after watching Psycho, and yet my manhood shrivels when confronted with the true terror that is Latest Remake!"
I don’t have any of those stories. I’m a walking vagina, and I love that I still get freaked out in my favorite genre. That said, the executions in H6 were difficult for me to watch — not because they were particularly gory or nasty, but because they were torturous. Baron employs no flashy angles or editing during these sequences, instead emphasizes the rigidity of nature, the ninety-degree angles and hard lines, effectively trapping the action. And beneath the action is the monstrous mental anguish of helplessness. As if that weren’t enough to make a good heart shrivel, the prelude to all of this is a humiliating sexual torture. These aren’t the sort of deaths that we exult in, as we do with a particularly well-placed machete or an agonizingly slow eye puncture. These are nasty, brutish, and gods sometimes I wished they were short.
After her monkey left her, Pippi never could cut an even break.
I don’t think there’s any danger of H6 being considered a horror classic, even a minor one. Baron hasn’t demonstrated a handle on the necessities of propulsive storytelling, nor conjured a world distinctive enough in look and feel to be memorable. What he has done is made a film that, given its limited scope and canvas, is damned effective in its moments of horror. I’ll be keeping an eye on Baron’s future projects.
There’s very little padding on this disc, with only a pair of brief interviews to form any substantive bonuses. One is with the director and the other with star Acasa. Apart from those (largely uninformative) features, you get the theatrical trailer.
7.2 out of 10