Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Saw and Torture Porn; A Reflection


Having just watched "Saw IV" a couple weeks ago, I would feel amiss if I didn't put my two cents in about this franchise and the idea of "Torture Porn". Torture porn is the new wave of horror films along the lines of the "Saw" franchise, "Hostel", "House of 1000 Corpses", etc., in which torture, sadism/masochism is the central theme of the films. My feeling on the matter is this: once you've seen one, you've seen them all. If Roth comes out with another, "Hostel", for instance, I won't see it. Just take a glance at my blog, and it won't take long to realize that I'm a huge fan of the horror genre. Torture porn, however, isn't horror. It's not creepy, just disgusting, and at times I find myself checking my moral compass while being "entertained" by these films. I'm not faulting the film industry on this one. It's not surprising or upsetting that the film industry is making these films. Their sole purpose is making money and providing a profitable product. What's sad is the demand for torture porn; a sub-genre that focuses on the pain and torture of women (primarily). I'm not advocating a so-called "solution" to this new rave. I don't believe in censorship. I'm simply reflecting on societies' demand for torture porn. I used to scoff when people like my grandfather would reflect on how people have changed from when they were growing up. I've always (until recently) been of the opinion that people haven't changed; they're just more open about their vices now. He reminisces about the days when you could safely hitchhike from one locale to another without worrying about Rutger Hauer slipping a switchblade against your thigh, telling you to say, "I want to die". While I don't believe that society was full of saints in the past, I do believe our moral sensibility has eroded, and continues to erode with each generation. Torture porn doesn't cause moral erosion, it reflects it. I don't foresee this trend ending (unless something more offensive comes along), but I don't want to contribute to it anymore, either. I would like to see horror return to something that taps into our unconscious fears, creating eerie atmospheres, instead of displaying grotesque torture for tortures' sake.
On the surface I may seem like a hypocrite for liking "Saw", and even "Hostel" (liking, not loving), but I don't believe I am. I like those movies. I'm not sure what that says about me, and others that like them. The point of this blog entry is that I need to spend some time figuring out why I like them, and in the meantime I'm not going to support films like them anymore, because, like I said- once you've seen one, you've seen them all. "Saw" does have a little more than most of the previous horror franchises that had more than one sequel. With each release there is a little more back story revealed about the main character, Jigsaw (Tobin Bell). There is the marriage of horror and vigilante justice, with mystery and intrigue as the bridesmaids. In summary, I won't be handing over my dollar to the torture porn peddlers anymore.

3 Comments:

Blogger Joseph B. said...

I totally agree with you on this style of film. I have no desire to see "Hostel Part 2", skipped every "Saw" since part 2 and only recently rented "Captivity" cuz it has my girl, Elisabeth Cuthbert in it. Even then, I pretty much fast forwarded through the whole thing. If you really want a film to re-affirm your faith in how gory, funny and surprising a horror movie can be, rent "Black Sheep".

6:33 PM  
Blogger Chris Allen Gaubatz said...

Do you feel like "The Audition" should be omitted from the 'torture porn' label? I think there was a lot more to that movie than torture. It doesn't get intense until the final few scenes.

1:01 PM  
Blogger Joseph B. said...

No way is "Audition" torture porn. That belongs to a whole new category of 'revenge flick' that Asia is producing right now... along with any Park Chan Wook film like "Oldboy", which by the way is one of the best films I've seen in the last 7 years!

7:58 PM  

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