Haunted by the death of his father and other psychological traumas, Daniel (Roberto Scorza) returns to the home where he was raised. Faced with intense emotional scars, as well as physical — which are realized by the years of self-harm depicted by the cuttings adorning his body — he enters the bathroom to begin a journey of self-exploration, self-mutilation and quite possibly, self-enlightenment. Prepared only with three white candles and some crude instruments, Daniel attempts to beckon the embrace of the Goddess Ishtar (Flora Giannattasio) to assist him on his self-illumination.
If you call yourself a gorehound, but you haven’t jumped on the veritable meat wagon that is the American Guinea Pig (AGP) series, you need to fix that, stat! Picking up where Hideshi Hino and company left off with the infamous Japanese Guinea Pig films, within this next year Stephen Biro and Unearthed Films will already be releasing the third and fourth films in the AGP series.
While Biro’s AGP: The Song of Solomon was getting a lot of the attention, Italian actress and first-time director Poison Rouge (Phantasmagoria, House of Flesh Mannequins), along with first-time writer Samuel Marolla and the “young veteran” Domiziano Cristopharo (directed 26 movies in 9 years? Are you crazy?), quietly managed to put together one of the most disturbing films of the current millennium. That may sound like hyperbole, but I haven’t squirmed in my seat this much while watching a film in a very long time, if ever, and I’ve seen some sh*t! Ladies and gentlemen, prepare yourselves for American Guinea Pig: Sacrifice.
There are really only two actors in AGP: Sacrifice, and most of the action takes place in one small room, but this film is anything but simple. Daniel (Roberto Scorza) goes back to the house where he grew up with a plan to find himself, or at least get in touch with something deep inside of himself. He hasn’t had the easiest of lives, as we hear in the flashback voiceovers of his mother and father yelling, and as we can see by the scarred flesh of his body. He has brought along nothing but a bag filled with candles, “tools,” a book, and a pack of smokes, and the clothes on his back, but he quickly sheds the clothing and begins getting in touch with his inner self…and when I say his inner self, I mean literally inside of his body.
Daniel has a plot to bring about the goddess Ishtar (Flora Giannattasio), whom he wants to “f*ck in a pool of blood until his d*ck explodes.” To do so, he has a book with instructions he will follow, as well as his bag of “tools,” most of which consist of blades and hooks and other sharp, pointy things. The only thing left to do is light some candles to set the mood and start cutting. And thanks to Athanasius Pernath, who’s done special effects/makeup on a number of Cristopharo’s films, all of this cutting and bleeding and self-mutilation looks amazing and might just make you puke.
Poison Rouge’s debut film harkens back to Devil’s Experiment and Flower of Flesh and Blood in its visceral brutality, while at the same time taking a page from AGP: Bouquet of Guts and Gore and weaving an actual story into the unsettling gorefest. The fact that she is able to maintain a calm atmosphere for much of the movie, despite the violence happening on screen, is a credit to her skills as a filmmaker and hints at even better things to come in the future. I don’t want to give too much away, but Daniel’s quest to summon Ishtar involves a lot of pain and a lot of damage to be inflicted upon himself. And I mean a lot of pain. Early on, he refers to the blades and tools he brought along as “keys to open all the doors.” This helps to make sense of the moment later on when, having taken a screwdriver, and then a drill, to his forehead, he talks of trying to break through his skull in order to reach the other side. Yes, this is as visually upsetting as it sounds, but it’s by far not the most nervous-making scene of the bunch, and that one I’ll just have to let you see for yourself.
I don’t think I can overstate how impressed I was with American Guinea Pig: Sacrifice. Here’s a whole bunch of rookies, fresh faces in the horror movie world, getting together and making a film that will instantly have a lot of buzz around it and even more expectations placed on it, and they absolutely knock it out of the park. The gore is great, the story is interesting, the visuals are really well shot, and by the end there even manages to be a bit of intrigue and a little room for interpretation when it comes to the finale. If you’re squeamish, or have a weak stomach, I don’t think I’d recommend this film to you…actually, maybe I would, just for fun. But this should be right at the top of the must-see list of anyone who searches out the disturbing stuff. I will be waiting impatiently for Poison Rouge to release her next film, as I can only imagine what disturbing secrets it may contain.