Vile review

by Sean McLaughlin

It has been said that imitation is the greatest form of flattery….but can a film also match the quality or success of a movie lineage it is attempting to duplicate? This is a question that “Vile”, the new film from Insider Pictures, attempts to answer. The result, however, is absolutely not. Not to say that “Vile” is a complete waste of time, or that it’s just another horror-porn clone; it does, however, contain a premise that has been tackled numerous times by the “Saw” movies. Sharing a storyline so closely with such a successful franchise will naturally lead to comparisons, unfair or otherwise. In the case of “Vile”, perhaps they should’ve gone in a completely different direction.

Summing up the action, a bunch of extras from an Old Navy commercial are lured into a trap, knocked out, and wake up in an impenetrable house along with some like-minded gen-Xers. Unsure of where they are or how they can escape, the captives find a video tape detailing what they need to do in order to leave with their lives. Again, well-worn territory. What the video does not explain, however, is why they’re there in the first place. What was the selection process? Do each of the characters need to atone for some past sin or egregious error? As far as I can tell, the only difference is this video features a creepy British grammar school teacher with bad teeth instead of Jigsaw. Finding out they must torture each other in order to get out, thereby producing a natural fluid secretion from the brain that deals directly with fear, the unwilling participants are forced to make tough decisions. Alliances are formed, backs are stabbed, and time is lost (literally) for both the cast and the viewer. In this way, “Vile” skips the first “Saw” and goes directly to copying “Saw 2”.

A major flaw with this film, perhaps a fatal one, is the cast of characters themselves. Some are close friends, but give in to their predicament way too easily. Rather than tearing the house apart looking for a way out, they proceed immediately to agonizing tactics, as if they’ve been waiting for a reason to commit such gruesome and painful acts on each other for a long time. They are often too creative with their methods, when simple punching or kicking would more than likely suffice. Slicing legs open, using pliers to rip out fingernails, burning flesh with an iron…..these are some of the more horrific acts that are shown or implied. I say “implied” because, believe it or not, most of the gore is not visually presented, leaving it to the mediocre sound effects to mentally envision the violence for the viewer. This is a big drawback in my eyes, as the reason films such as “Saw” and “Hostel” are successful is due to its shocking scenes of gore and brutality, which this movie mostly lacks.

Despite my negativity, I was able to find a few positives with “Vile”. While the acting is sub-par, by and large, Eric Jay Beck (who also co-wrote the script with Rob Kowsaluk) and Akeem Smith do their best hero portrayals, as the overall crowd looks for leadership. By the conclusion (which I’m still shaking my head at), the dust settles and only the most-deserving are left standing. The inevitable terror and harrowing anticipation as each character waits his or her turn to be mutilated builds nicely throughout. These are not exactly Hitchcock-ian devises of suspense employed, but they work in the right moments. And dreadful sound effects aside, the soundtrack is rather effective in setting an eerie mood splendidly, particularly as we near the disappointing end.

Overall, “Vile” lacks direction, visually-graphic violence, common sense, an ebb and flow pace, and a satisfying conclusion. But again, when you choose to so closely mimic such a successful niche genre as the “Saw” movies, you open yourself up to the inevitable criticism. In this particular case, the criticism is certainly appropriate.

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