Review: Vile / Cert: 18 / Director: Taylor Sheridan / Screenplay: Eric Jay Beck, Rob Kowsaluk / Starring: Eric Jay Beck, April Matson, Akeem Smith / Release Date: January 14th
It’s fair to say that the torture porn horror subgenre has had its day, replaced by found footage and never ending zombie films. Not that it was a complete loss. After all, it led to Hostel and the first two Saw films. All of which brings us neatly to Vile, a pretty solid late addition to the roster.
After a nice, relaxing day in the countryside, two couples stop at a petrol station, where they are drugged by an attractive hitchhiker. They awaken in a run-down house with five other strangers. All of them have weird pipes and devices stuck to the back of their head. A video informs them that they are there to provide certain chemicals from their brains that are produced when in pain for a new kind of designer drug. When the bar on the screen reaches 100%, they will be set free; if this does not happen within 24 hours, they will all die. The group have no choice but to pull each other’s fingernails out, burn each other and engage in other acts of terror. Some like it a little too much, some have secrets from the rest of the group and some go absolutely crazy from the stress of it all.
While it is certainly disturbing and bloody, Vile stops some way short of living up to its name. The story doesn’t bash you over the head with graphic gore; instead, things are allowed to build slowly. When events do boil over into violence, the camera has a habit of pulling away at the last moment, leaving your imagination to do the work. Crucially, this is a horror film with a diverse cast of characters ranging from likeable and to utterly hateful, and this makes the twists and turns all the more effective.
Vile is let down by some abysmal acting in some scenes as well as by a lapse into incoherence in the last twenty minutes. But that still leaves an hour and change of very decent entertainment, and you shouldn’t let the dodgy cover and subject matter put you off.