Question of the Day

"The Pale Man," one of the scariest film Bogeymen I've ever seen.

I saw Pan's Labyrinth last weekend, and was completely enthralled by it. You know when you go to see a movie, and the next day you can't stop thinking about it, so you start Googling all over the place to read what others have to say about it? It was one of those movies. (I'm going to try very very hard to avoid spoilers here.)

One thing that the vast majority of people point out in their discussion is the film's extreme violence. There are some scenes of viciousness that are so brutal, even I had to look away occasionally. And I'm usually the guy happily munching away on my popcorn as zombies slurp the grey matter out of the skulls of unfortunates.

The other word that usually accompanies "violence" in these opinions is "gratuitous." Many of the people that have seen this movie felt the violence was over the top, unnecessary. I disagree.

Yes, perhaps the violence wasn't necessary to the plot of the film, but it was vital to the character development (and one character in particular). The film takes place during a time of war, and as we all know, war can make people very brutal. If the real violence wasn't there, I don't think I would have been as affected by the climax of the film as I was.

In contrast, there is a film, Audition, that was recommended to me by many people. I hated this film. If you haven't seen it, (and again, trying to avoid spoilers here) there is an extended, brutal torture sequence at the end of the film that I found to be completely gratuitous. I could understand the character's justification as to why she was torturing her victim, but man, I thought the whole thing was torture for torture's sake; simple shock value. A "test of endurance" for the film-goer. Color me unimpressed.

Interestingly enough, Pan's Labyrinth has a "torture scene," but we never see it. We see the torturer taunting his captive, and then the film cuts away to another scene. Granted, we see the results later, but never do we see what the victim goes through. This, in a movie that's supposedly full of "gratuitous violence."

So... here's my long-winded means of getting to the Question of the Day. When do you think extreme violence in movies is acceptable? And I'm not really talking about horror movies here; the violence in most of them is naturally going to be pretty gonzo. When does violence become gratuitous to you?

By the way... if you go to see Pan, be prepared for the Pale Man to make an appearance in at least one nightmare. He is bone chilling.

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