Sunday, January 24, 2010

7 Days (Sundance Review)

What would you do if someone hurt your family? For those without faith in the court systems, there’s another option. Some call it “vigilante justice,” others simply call it “justice.” In Daniel Grou’s debut feature, a successful doctor takes vengeance into his own hands when he abducts his daughter’s murderer. What follows is an ever-intensifying display of violence. Starting somewhere around Tarantino levels of brutality, 7 Days quickly ups the ante and rushes towards Takashi Miike territory. To some, parents torturing pedophiles might sound like a just punishment, especially towards the more sadistic offenders. But there’s just something about raw sadism that makes you rethink your values. In other words, you’re not going to like watching this guy get tortured. 7 Days is so brutal that you keep telling yourself “It’s just a movie. It’s just a movie.” But even then, it doesn’t really help.

The film’s strengths lie in its unwavering drive to shock. There’s nothing like watching someone have to choose whether or not to eat his/her own bodily organs to make you appreciate Subway’s Five Dollar Footlongs. The visuals are nothing short of bleak and graphic. Remember Passion of the Christ? Pretty grisly, right? Well, for 7 Days, imagine that Jesus was a fiendish pedophile. You still with me? Now imagine that PedoChrist received a torture session about five times as worse than the regular savior. (Note: It’s also important to subtract any of the good things that Christ did in the Bible and replace it with more child rape.) 7 Days pushes limits in attempt to drag viewers away from their preconceived notions about violence. MESSAGE: ALL VIOLENCE HAS CONSEQUENCES! The director practically beats you over the head with it (har har har). The film’s strengths can be found in the filmmaker’s methods but its weaknesses are found in his own preconceived notions about the audience. From the first disturbing sledgehammer-human body encounter, most viewers are convinced. Torture is torture is torture. If that’s where it ended, instead of where it began, the message would have been explicitly clear. Instead, the entire second and third acts are coated in these “how do I turn it off?” displays of gruesomeness and the message is muddled down beneath the distinct feeling that the filmmaker was enjoying making your squirm more than making you think.