UK Release date: 24th October 2011
Director: David Blyth
Starring: Kate O'Rourke, Te Kaea Beri, Campbell Cooley, Sandy Lowe, Brendan Gregory
Running time: 77 mins
Country: New Zealand
Reviewer: Adam Wing
With a CV that includes Red-Blooded American Girl and Death Warmed Up, not to mention TV work like White Fang and Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, it’s fair to say that director David Blyth’s career has been anything but ordinary. That statement isn’t going to change anytime soon if his latest psychosexual horror movie is anything to go by. With a taste for the kind of absurd imagery Takashi Miike would be proud of - a birthing scene in particular echoes one of his most celebrated images - David Blyth is about to take you on one hell of a joyride.
Maybe we should start by getting our heads around the plot. Susan (Kate O’Rourke) has a history of horrific abuse, which refuses to loosen its grip on her. Tanya (Te Kaea Beri) is a lost girl searching for the mother she never knew, confused and consumed by the lack of direction in her ‘life’. As the two seek reconciliation with their pasts, their paths become intertwined resulting in a surreal nightmare they may never wake up from. Not until there’s blood on the dance floor at the very least, and believe me when I say it, that day will come much sooner than you think. If it’s dreamlike flourishes and hypnotic visuals you’re after, look no further, Wound is opening up on UK shores this month courtesy of Cine Du Monde.
The official outline for the movie is a little vague perhaps, because what you’re really getting is a movie that revels in fear, abuse, retribution and above all else, complete and utter madness. Much of what transpires takes place in Susan’s fragile mind, giving Blyth the opportunity to explore a nightmarish world made up of two-headed dolls, brutalising bondage and freakishly sinister pig-men. It’s a cinematic oddity in every sense of the word, one that Blyth justifies by saying “I like to think that my movie is about the horror of everyday I see around me, an increasingly uncaring society…” Obviously he’s talking about the presence of sexual abuse in New Zealand and not the freakishly sinister pig-man that graces his picture.
Perplexing yet captivating, an outrageous introduction - wince inducing for the male population - sets the tone for the rest of the movie. Themes of degradation, incest, life and death are thrown into a blender and sprayed all over the TV screen, resulting in a picture that’s hard to follow but brings with it a hypnotic quality that’s difficult to shake off. It’s not always easy to tell where the lines of reality and fiction cross, and Blyth isn’t about to make it easy on the viewer at home, with Wound continuing to shake the senses at all times. Some of the scenes are excruciating to watch, disturbingly compelling yet enthralling and gross at the same time. Blyth does have a knack for deranged imagery, and if that’s your bag, Wound will flow like a river to the sea. It’s worth remembering that Death Warmed Up was New Zealand’s first splatter horror film, coming a full three years before Peter Jackson’s Bad Taste.
I can’t honestly say I enjoyed the film - not in the traditional sense of the word - but then, I’m not entirely convinced Blyth set out to make a film for me to savour. His return to filmmaking was intended to shock, and from that perspective he succeeds unequivocally. Wound wont be to everybody’s taste, Blyth has been taking the same uncompromising approach to filmmaking since his 1978 breakthrough Angel Mine, a film that still causes anger to this day. It’s a low budget affair with quality lead turns, Te Kaea Beri impresses in her movie debut and Kate O’Rourke takes the art of immersion to a whole new level. With themes like incest and bloody retribution washed down with graphic violence and surreal imagery, Wound remains a tough sell no matter how you bandage it. Blyth makes up for the lack of linear plotting with vibrant cinematography, gore by the bucket load and twisted visual panache. It doesn’t always make a whole lot of sense, but it will keep you captivated until the very end, if only to see what Blyth can throw at the screen next.
Dark, disturbing and not for the faint hearted, Blyth continues to anger the censors with his latest assault on the senses. It’s a tough watch and a tough sell for all concerned, but even if Blyth achieves nothing else with his latest mind f**k, he will at least have held your attention for the entire duration. Wounds may heal in time, but with Blyth back behind the camera, you sure wont forget them in a hurry.