Sunday, March 18, 2012
Stoic (Canada/Germany, 2009) - Color, Director(s): Uwe Boll
MPAA Rating: NR
Approx. 91 min.
Z-rating: 4 out of 5 stars for being disturbingly "hard-to-watch" but interestingly thought-provoking
Cheese Factor: 1 out 5 stars for being a gritty and realistic film
Just when I had lost all hope for director Uwe Boll (House of the Dead, BloodRayne), who is known for his notoriously bad video game to movie adaptations, he actually comes out with something decent and watchable. I know all the shit that online readers like to give Boll but there's no denying that there's a decent filmmaker underneath all the trash that he's been pumping out. Knowing his reputation, I decided to give him a fair shake when I rented House of the Dead from Netflix. I thought to myself that there was no way anyone can fuck up a zombie movie... is there? Just random people with guns shooting at other people dressed like zombies, how hard can that be to make? I wouldn't even mind if he lifted the entire story from the video games. Instead, I was treated to a steaming pile of shit when I popped in the DVD. (I'll save that story for the review of that movie!)
So expecting nothing but garbage from Mr. Boll, I was a little tentative when a buddy recommended this film. Taking place in a jail cell housing four inmates and cutting to interviews of three of them being questioned regarding the death of the fourth, most of this story is told in flashback. We see each of the three tell their side of the story, feigning innocence, followed by a flashback to the events of the night in question revealing that they each had their hand in the apparent suicide of their fourth cellmate. In the flashback, we see that they were getting along and playing cards in the beginning. Seems to be four average guys sharing a cell and trying to get along. Mitch, the one who supposedly commits suicide, makes a bet that the loser would have to eat an entire tube of toothpaste. He ends up losing the hand himself but refuses to follow through with the bet that he made. Each of them are insistent that he follows through but as he refuses, they appear to back off and prepare for bed. In a scene reminiscent of Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket, they hold him down on his bed as Edward Furlong (John Connor from Terminator 2) beats him with a bar of soap wrapped in a towel and forces him to eat the tube of toothpaste. After begrudgingly swallowing the entire tube, he begins complaining of stomach pains and that's where things begin to spiral out of control for poor Mitch. As many people can tell you, men can be cruel and evil if given the opportunity to do what they please away from the prying eyes of any authority.
Things only get worse for poor Mitch after he decides to run for the emergency alarm and tries to get help from guards. Unfortunately, the cellmates overpower him and the guards are told that everything is under control. If everything that happens before this wasn't hard enough to watch, what happens to poor Mitch after this is absolutely cringe worthy!!! They force him to consume urine and feces-laden water, they beat him, rape him, humiliate, and degrade him. By the end of the film, you see each cellmate's plead of innocence and what they were originally incarcerated for. At this point, I began to seriously question the prison system and what kind situations they create that would be similar to this.
Nudity: No female nudity (obviously) but I guess you see but male butt cheeks.
Gore: None. There's a little blood from the beatings and sodomy, but no guts spilling out or anything.
Awesome: Very. Thought provoking was never a term that I thought would be associated with an Uwe Boll film, but I have to say that it's one of the first words that comes to mind when I think of this movie. Yes, this film is extremely difficult to watch and not in the fun way. I totally believe that all of these events, while maybe not all to the same person, have occurred before. That's what really interests me about this film, the fact that you can see how a group mentality forms and how quickly things can escalate out of control because of it. There have been studies on crowd psychology and and other social dynamics before where the minds of the group merge and act differently toward people than they would if they were thinking individually. While the film may be difficult to sit through, it is brilliantly made and thought provoking for those with an open mind.