Thursday, September 27, 2012

Blu-ray Review: THE BUNNY GAME (2010)

Blu-ray + DVD Combo 
Label: Autonomy Pictures
Region: 0 NTSC, ABC
Duration: 76 Minutes
Rating: Unrated
Video: 16x9 Widescreen (1.78:1)
Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo
Cast:  Rodleem GetsicJeff F. Renfro, Drettie PageGregg Gilmore
Director: Adam Rehmeier

Synopsis: Banned in the UK and partially inspired by a real-life experience of star Rodleen Getsic, The Bunny Game (2010) is an unflinching descent into torment and madness. Junkie hooker Sylvia Grey turns the wrong trick in demented trucker JR (Jeff Renfro). After knocking her out cold and taking her to a desolate place where no one can hear her cries, JR subjects Sylvia to a series of increasingly twisted, sadistic “games”. But will she survive the ultimate test when she wakes up with her head sealed in a white leather bunny mask?

Film: Some days you just wanna destroy something, tear shit up and vent your  frustration and sometimes you just wanna watch a film that destroys you and Adam Rehmeir's The Bunny Game (2010) pretty much destroyed me from frame one, it's an impossibly depressing watch that left me in a there's no hope for the human race sorta funk for awhile afterwards. I first heard about Rehmeier's controversial film when it was refused certification outright by the British Board of Film Classification for "unremitting sexual and physical abuse of a helpless woman, as well as the sadistic and sexual pleasure the man derives from this. The emphasis on the woman’s nudity tends to eroticise what is shown, while aspects of the work such as the lack of explanation of the events depicted, and the stylistic treatment, may encourage some viewers to enjoy and share in the man’s callousness and the pleasure he takes in the woman’s pain and humiliation".

Once again a small moral minority dictates draconian morality over an entire nation of adults, ugh. Admittedly the film is a bit more eye-brow raising and disturbing than your typical torture-porn flick at the cineplex but how anyone could watch this film and say that anything in this film eroticises the events in anyway at all is just freaking ludicrous to me, let alone encourage others to be incited to follow suite, Christ-o-mighty. 

This brutal film begins with a sloppy and suffocating blowjob performed by Bunny (Rodleen Gestic), a street walkin' prostitute with a coke addiction. The next few minutes we are subjected to a gloomy montage of Bunny's sad life, a vicious cycle of violent sex with anonymous johns, blowjobs in the alleyway, a trick stuffing her payment insultingly in her mouth, pissing in the street, drug withdrawal, crying in the shower while washing the filth away, walking the streets, snorting cocaine, rinse and repeat - it's just depressing stuff that left me wanting a shower, felt dirty like watching one of the old hardcore Richard Kern (Submit to Me)  or Harmony Korine's devastating Gummo (1997) only worse and with a similar minded black metal soundtrack. It's not a glamorous depiction of a whore's life by any means, it's grim and gritty and fraught with danger, like passing out while a low-life trick fucks your unconscious body, steals your money and drugs before taking off . When the destitute Bunny awakens she breaks down, the life she's chosen has bested her yet again. With no cash and no drug of choice she back at zero and she hits the streets once again when along comes an 18-wheeler driven by JR (Jeff Renfro), a middle-aged trucker with some blow and just maybe a little money for a blowjob if she's lucky, which she most certainly is not.

What JR has got it mind is torture, misogyny and sadism for days on end. After a snort of of nose-candy Bunny is incapacitated with cloth doused with some sorta knock-out drops and the trucker drives her out to the desert far away from prying eyes. She's taken to the back  of his semi-trailer and chains her up and this is where the film gets really fucked-up as she endures untold suffering at the hands of the demented trucker for five straight days. As extreme horror goes this was squirm inducing stuff. Stripped nude, her head shaved she's subjected to sexual violence, sadism, and forced to wear a leather bunny mask while the trucker where's a leather hog mask and chases her through the desert in a weird "bunny game". The trucker loves his toys, too, ball-gagging her, branding her with a hot branding iron (for real!), wiring her mouth open with some fucked-up dental device and forces liquor down her throat right up until the films somewhat outta-steam finale, I just didn't feel like the ending matched the intensity of the rest of the film, it seemed like it was meant to be chilling but it just came off as deflated to in my eyes.

The film definitely has an art school pretentiousness to it, it's easy to imagine Rehmeier as a snotty art school student with a 'let's make the most fucked-up movie ever!' demeanor and I am okay with that, actually - if he set out to show me something psychologically damaging let me just say he succeeded. Like Salo or 120 Days of Sodom (1976),  I Spit on Your Grave (1978) and Cannibal Holocaust (1980) this is a slice of shock cinema that won't get a ton of watches at my house until some poor unsuspecting fucker comes along and says "what have you got that will fuck my shit up?" and that's when this gets pulled, played and put away for awhile longer.

Blu-ray: The Bunny Game is presented in 1080p anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1) and looks good in stark black and white. The whites are crisp and the blacks are nice and deep. Despite the stomach-churning events depicted onscreen the grainy cinematography is quite artful and when taken one frame at a time allows you to enjoy the artfulness separate from the horrific events, it's a pretty artsy film at it's heart visually, very striking. Audio options include an English language Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track with optional English SDH subtitles and the commentary. The stereo track is crisp aside from some muffled dialogue and the caustic electronic score sounds quite good sonically as does the grinding black metal songs performed by L.A.-based band Harrassorreally harsh stuff which perfectly compliments the grim film. 

Special features include a commentary with director Adam  Rehmeier and actress Gestic who joins Reheimer via Skype - it's an interesting listen for sure that adds another level of disturbing to an already disturbing film, Gestic's dedication to the film borders on the fanatical, pretty amazing. There's also a making of featurette “Caretaking the Monster” (16:30) featuring interview with Rehmeier, Gestic, Renfro and Gregg Gilmore who was originally cast as demented-trucker JR but backed out for fear that he might actually killing someone after considering the unsettling script and Gestic's willingness to "do anything", dangerous cinema indeed. Gestic endured quite a transformation bringing "Bunny" to the screen, in actuality she's quite a cutey with some mighty fine acting chops. Filling out the disc are two trailer and a poster and stills gallery with a selection of posters, artwork, behind-the-scene pics and still. The stills are quite captivating, Rehmeier's has a great eye and these stills separate from the horrific events they portray are striking and artful. The Blu-ray + DVD combo also includes a standard definition version of the film with mirrored special features so you can enjoy the fucked-uppedness on either format.

Special Features:
Audio commentary by director Adam Rehmeier and actress Rodleen Getsic
- “Caretaking the Monster” making-of featurette (16:30) 16x9
Trailer (1:36) 16x9 
- Alternate Trailer (1:15) 16x9

Verdict: The Bunny Game is a disturbing slice of shock cinema that's unrelenting from frame one to the end credits. Not sure what Rehmeier set out to make here, there's not a message that I can decipher unless it's turning tricks will only end in ultimate sadness but I am quite sure he just wanted to make one of the most fucked-up films ever made and to that end it's quite successful, this was a difficult watch but a difficult watch does not always have a lot of rewatch value for me. That said, this is pretty fucked-up and worth a one-er particularly if you love shock cinema or if only to satisfy your morbid curiosity, it's quite unsettling. 3.5 Outta 5