Kate O'Rourke, Te Kaea Beri, Campbell Cooley, Sandy Lowe, Brendan Gregory, Ian Mune
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY
NR (Equiv. to strong "R")
Vicious Circle Films (Breaking Glass Pictures)
ORDER THIS FILM
Let's make one thing very clear from the beginning ... Most of you will hate New Zealand cult filmmaker David Blyth's controversial new film Wound, a supernatural horror film exploring with relentless commitment the incredibly dark worlds of incest, mental illness, revenge and death. Wound is not a film for everyone, but rather a film for those who prefer their horror of the extreme nature and those who are able to wade through the film's disturbing imagery in an effort to discover the truth of Blyth's creation.
What is the truth of Blyth's creation? Wound is incredibly open to interpretation, but as Exhibit A let's contemplate the film's opening scene, a scene that sets the stage for the rest of this cinematic journey. Susan (Kate O'Rourke) has welcomed her father into her home, and it's quickly apparent they've not seen each other for quite some time. It is only a few moments before Susan has beaten her father over the head with a baseball bat, an act to be followed by the graphic severing of his penis.
I may be guessing, but I'm thinking that Susan has some unresolved sexual abuse issues.
A good majority of humanity will be, and perhaps should be, offended by the images that Blyth puts forth. I can almost picture Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic Roger Ebert, who famously trashed the film Chaos for the way it incorporated extreme violence in allegedly speaking out against extreme violence, fervently trashing this film as well. While I'm not quite willing to praise this film and I'd even be hesitant to officially "recommend" it without knowing someone's taste, what I can say about Wound is that it may be one of the most jarringly honest and realistic portrayals of the wounded mind of a survivor of sexual abuse that the horror genre has ever been able to capture. You will likely be disturbed by Wound, but you should be disturbed by Wound.
Truthfully, Wound is about far more than sexual abuse. David Blyth covers a lot of territory with this film, a film that some in the public in New Zealand believed should be banned. While I can understand the sentiment, and I certainly believe that no children whatsoever should see this film, I believe that there's a segment of the population who will "get" this film. Wound is an incredibly graphic film, but not necessarily an exploitative one. Every word and every image feels important and possessing of meaning, and while it may take considerable reflection to derive meaning from the film it's an effort that may well be worth it.
There's an intriguing relationship in the film that follows an S&M theme, with submissive Susan being dominated by her Master (Campbell Cooley) in a relationship that vaguely brings to mind that between James Spader and Maggie Gyllenhaal in Secretary but Blyth amps up the intensity ten-fold and doesn't disguise it behind any faux sentimentality or reference to love. There's also a vital story of Tonya (Te Kaea Beri), whose story runs alongside Susan's and contributes to the film's supernatural elements.
D.P. Marc Mateo lenses the film with an weaving together of gothic and ethereal, an odd mix that works wonders for the film as the elements that Blyth blends together combine to create a story that needs not be cohesive to be convincing and effective. Ultimately, the film can be recommended because of a rather remarkable performance by Kate O'Rourke, who manages to maintain a strong sense of humanity amidst almost unfathomable madness projected onscreen. Campbell Cooley also shines as Susan's master and Te Kaea Beri projects an innocence that allows her character to resonate far more than one might initially expect.
There are scenes in Wound that feel like they are simply too much and like Blyth simply goes too far, but these are the same scenes that linger in your mind twisting and turning their way around your psyche' and slowly but surely gaining meaning until your own inner light bulb goes on and you find yourself rambling incoherently "Aha! That's what it meant."
Wound has been picked up by Vicious Circle Films, the horror arm of Breaking Glass Pictures, for a home video release and is currently available as of this very week. For more information, visit the link to the left of this review in the credits.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic