I picked this up in the sale a few days back and having read fairly negative reviews, I wasn't expecting a lot. As you'll probably know this film was banned as part of the video nasties hysteria, but even this uncut edition wasn't all that shocking by modern standards. Well perhaps the scene with the goat was a little shocking, but it's really not that bad. The first 10 minutes of the film might put you off, but do keep watching, as it'll start to make a lot more sense before long.
Without spoiling the film, it's a fairly straightforward story about killers on the rampage on a small island. It was made on a very small budget, but the island serves as an attractive cost-free backdrop. On that note, it is beautifully filmed. Lots of wide angle lens shots and on the Arrow Film release, aside from a small section of deteriorated film near the end, the colours are vibrant. I really wasn't expecting such a fine looking movie.
The acting seems to come up for a lot of criticism, which I disagree with. Robert Behling puts in a great performance as Christopher, creating a genuinely interesting character. He reminded me a little bit of Ted Bundy, although he looks more like Greg Kinnear (it would've been funny to see him in the role!). I enjoy watching characters like this. Michael Reilly Burke as Bundy, Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman, Jake Gyllenhaal as Louis Bloom
you get the picture. Personally, I think Behling puts in a great performance.
I guessed straight away that Jane Lyle was a model and she comes in for a lot of criticism, but I actually think she was perfect for the role. She has an innocent look and I agree with Stephen Thrower's assessment that her line delivery adds something extra. It may not be an example of the finest acting ever, but she comes across as a little simple and naïve, which (without spoiling the film) fits perfectly. The pair of them reminded me of the Ken and Barbie killers. Other actors put in a reasonable performance, aside from the director, although he only appears through necessity (an actor pulled out last minute apparently) and it's not an important section of the film. In fairness, even by his own admission he isn't a great actor, but it's not too distracting.
The music is absolutely brilliant and was co-written by the director, so it fits perfectly. On the Arrow Film release it comes as an extra on the disc (along with a ton of other great extras).
There are a few things which will seem out of place. For starters, there are often scenes with no extras. It's a holiday island which is at times seemingly deserted. Also you'll notice that victims have a strange habit of not screaming for help, which is strange. Often the film seems quite surreal, perhaps a little like parts of 'American Psycho'.
Much like American Psycho, this film has a dark sense of humour. But it also has an interesting point to make about morality and voyeurism. Indeed, Christopher's character could well be a Daily Mail reader, so outraged that he has been 'forced' to watch things he didn't want to see (based on his moral code) that he now wants to take revenge and see the "perverts" punished. The irony being that the Daily Mail has run many campaigns against video nasties, despite the fact most readers would be unlikely to (and probably haven't watched) these films. In the film, the hypocrisy is quite clear for all to see and the crucifixion (along with many other things) puts the emphasis firmly on religious conservatism.
So all in all, I think it's a great film. From the unusual opening credits, which use a camera shutter sound to set the scene, it's a very unique and interesting film. There is a 15 minute section near the end which dragged a little, so some better editing here would've raised this up to an 8, but for me it's a solid 7/10. It's unique, well shot, has fantastic music, great characters and more importantly, it has something to say. We could do with more films like this, rather than Iron Man 12 or X-Men 20. And well done to Arrow for putting out a great print of it. If you like your films sleazy and unusual, then this is definitely worth seeking out!