Sunday, August 16, 2015

These Beautiful People would Crack a Mirror: A Film Review

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*full disclosure: an online screener of this film was provided by Doghouse Pictures.

Director: Brini Amerigo.

Writers: Brini Amerigo, Andrea Cavaletto and Marco Palese.

Cast: Danny Cutler, Alex Lucchesi, Alex Southern and Kate Marie Davies.

Beautiful People is a film from Rome, Italy. The film features practical effects and it will be released by Raven Banner Entertainment, shortly. The film also blends two horror sub-genres: the zombie film and the home invasion thriller. The blend of genres works here, but, Beautiful People is no Funny Games (2007), nor 28 Days Later (2002). Instead, the film stumbles to find a relevant reason for all of its violence. The character Brett (Alex Southern) tries to find a moral compass and fails. All of the other characters are even more amoral. In the end, Beautiful People is an exercise in depravity.

One review mentioned that Beautiful People is nihilistic. However, the trio of writers have introduced a reason for the instigation of terror; it is instigated by governments, or by another, even more intangible group - the illuminati! Three killers, one sporting an illuminati-inspired tattoo, target a home, for murder, rape and robbery. The Pontecorvo can do little to stop the attacks, which last a good half-hour. Finally, the tables are turned when John Pontecorvo's (David White) illicit and poorly controlled human experiments are released. Villain faces villain, with no one to root for. Though, the rape videographer Brett shows some promise.

Brett, a minor character, models an unbelievable character arc. Initially, Brett is reluctant to film his brother Nibbio's (Danny Cutler), misdeeds. Nibbio forces one married couple to engage in a sex act, in front of their daughter. If that was not enough, he also murders them when unsatisfied by the couple's performance. In a later sequence, Brett becomes physically sick as his brother psychologically tortures another family. And, Brett shows an understandable reluctance to partake in all of the terror and he even helps two characters escape his brother's murderous clutches. Yet, Brett quickly changes late in the picture. His actions will not be revealed here, but they are equally brutal when compared to that of his brother's. The late change comes, in this viewer's estimation, to close out the film. A closed ending is not always necessary, though, and Brett's change into a villain comes about with a very weak set-up.

The writers of the film work with two horror sub-genres: the home invasion thriller and the zombie feature; one is dominant over the other. The home invasion thriller predominates the first two acts, while the zombies invade the final third. The home invasion thriller has become more and more popular. Films such as Panic Room (2002), Funny Games (2007) and Martyrs (2008) have worked within this genre, to terrifying affect. All three of these films incorporate elements of psychological torture and so does Beautiful People. Though, this reviewer felt just as tortured as the characters. The reason for the violence in Funny Games is ambiguous; though, one psychopathic killer asks: "is it enough?" of the viewer. In Beautiful People the reason for the violence is authoritative in nature, in that an unseen group is leading events e.g. financing John's experiments, covering up these same experiments. These experiments are what lead to zombie-influenced final act, with patient zero escaping the lab. The two genres work well together here, with the home invasion sub-genre most interesting to this viewer.

The film offers too much amorality. Therefore, the tone of the film is overly dark and overly serious. There are no light moments here to help balance out the film. All of the characters, outside of two youngish children, are amoral; the two male children are simply neutral. The character John uses kidnapped people as part of his experiments. You can see an innocent, young woman murdered through the credits, in John's lab. His wife, Elena (Kate Marie Davies) is also amoral. She lies about one of her son's paternity, to John's surprise. The villains are even more amoral. Each partakes in murder, rape and robbery, to varying degrees. So, where is the moral courage or even kindness? There is no one to stand up to so much vice and only Brett shows any move towards virtue, but even he succumbs to the darkness. A moral message of hope will not be found in Beautiful People.

Beautiful People offers the barest of reasons for its violence. Government or an intangible authority group are invading the home of the characters. Their purpose is ambiguous, but the film teases a sequel, with a late scene (shown after the credits). As it is, this film offers lots of psychological torture, without the introduction of virtue. So, this viewer began to feel dread as each scene led to more and more brutality. It would have been better to have had some light at the end of the tunnel. In the end, Beautiful People offers lots of great make-up effects, but very little hope to overcome so much evil.

Overall: 5.5 out of 10.

*a final thought: the growth of home invasion thrillers could be linked to the growing surveillance state, which leaves almost no space as private.

A trailer for the film is available here:

A Beautiful People Trailer on 28DLA

Recommended release:

Funny Games on Amazon Direct

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