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I am a bit sure on how exactly to review this title. Obviously film critiques are very individual and subjective but you still have an obligation to convey what the work brings to the viewers experience. The key markers are usually the quality of the plot, character development, directorial decisions and cinematography. This is my view as an amateur with no pretense of ever being anything more so.
With this piece of work from Japanese director Kôji Shiraishi these requirements barely apply as there is little in the way of any kind of story and almost no character development. Kôji Shiraishi has previously made films which come under the more traditional Japanese horror genre with a strong supernatural element, reminiscent of folklore.
No real plot? No character development? I know what you are thinking, either the film is terrible or I have completely misread the whole thing and missed the point entirely. Let me first say that Grotesque, as you may guess from the title, is not so much a film but a voyeuristic experience and one you are unlikely to forget in a hurry. Those easily offended or disturbed should look elsewhere with immediate effect. There is a term bandied about promoting the likes of Hostel as 'torture porn' where there is an almost sadistic intent on unsettling the viewer. If you have seen Hostel and it's many clones you will know these short bursts of brutality have the most direct effect in what is already a disturbing context.
Grotesque differs from these films in that the sadism is almost relentless for the majority of the film and the little time away from the horror does nothing but heighten the experience of disgust. Essentially the 'plot' involves a man kidnapping a couple and subjecting them both to sexual degradation and horrific and graphically portrayed torture. This provides the entertainment and the lack of any real story led the BBFC denying the film certification effectively making it illegal.
I have no desire to research into the motivation for this type of film from a directorial standpoint but my impression is that this an experiment to probe what the viewer can tolerate if not understand. This is almost a pointless exercise in a mainstream environment but it may appeal to fans of the sub genre and those with a darker, perhaps kinkier interest in sadism.
It must be advised in the strongest possible terms that is a film which cannot be viewed passively due to the extreme graphic violence, sexual abuse and relentless disregard for humanity. I will not make any reference to the acts carried out within the film as it would serve no purpose and I hope I have been sufficient in describing the horror you may experience.
I watched the original Japanese version which had no subtitles and believe me they were not required save for a couple of short scenes. Even then I got the impression these made the film more disturbing, giving an almost abstract art to the composition of Grotesque.
Full on sadistic torture of a couple which is realistically portrayed. The film is not so much 'in your face' as forced down your throat prior to your head being completely torn off. Subtle it is not and it is hard to recommend it on any merit at all. It will appeal to some but to very, very few of you.