Wednesday, 2 May 2012
The Bunny Game (2010) Adam Rehmeier
Some distance into The Bunny Game I thought, "This is exactly the sort of film I would make". But then afterward I thought about it more and realised, "This is the sort of film I would have made 5 years ago". That is of course if I had the resources and wasn't crippled by drink and depression. It's the sort of film I probobly would have loved back then, back when I thought Flower of Flesh and Blood was one of the greatest films of all time, back when the whole notion of endurance test cinema was a new and wonderful thing to me, when I thought that work which seeks to test us is that of the highest possible pursuit in art. But nowadays, with so many hours of bad porn, gross out artsploitation and experimental perfomance trash scrawled obscene physical graffiti through my head-sphere, I can't say as The Bunny Game did all that much for me, despite its lofty aims and occasional classy moments. The set up is as simple as can be, cocaine addled hooker hottie gets picked up by trucker loon and variously tormented in the back of his truck and sometimes the desert. The gimmick is that the living lady is some kind of performance artist and ex hooker or ex stripper, who actually endured similar bad shit in real life and then endured the degradations of the film for real, as some kind of therapeutic process. Or something like that any ways. It could have been quite brilliant, the notion of a film acting as genuine therapy, catharsis captured on screen reality hearkens right back to the ritual roots of drama, its function as glorification of the Gods. Today of course the Self is God, and God is Self, so in their way the likes of The Bunny Game, anything from Lucifer Valentines undervalued Vomit Gore trilogy (its actually pretty hilarious as long as you don't watch it sober) to the live recordings of Otto Muehl and the Vienna Aktionists, are in their way an honest return to fundamental aesthetic/religious expression. Heck, The Bunny Game is even pretty blatant at times in its nods to religious purification. The trouble is, it just isn't all that interesting. Lots and lots of screaming, some hosing, a fair amount of physical abuse and a couple of actually ace scenes that I won't spoil, all adding up to a film that feels like it should feel like an uncompromising, soul darkening nightmare but rarely rises above a mild feel of discomfort or shock. On the plus side, Rodleen Getsic is a terrific leading lady, giving perhaps the most fearless female performance captured since Emily Haack first started making waves, she plays less a character and more a raw sensation, hurt and fear and confusion and desperation in striking, beautiful, ragged blaze, magical to behold. Jeff Renfro is pretty great as the crazy trucker as well, one gets the impression that like his co star, he is barely even acting. As villainous roles go though, it has none of the depth or amazement factor of say, Dean Minindao from The Taming of Rebecca or Gas Station Attendant in Forced Entry. And the power of both performances is rather sapped by the modishly stylised direction, all fast editing, minimalism and oblique digressions that work nowhere near as well as a more straightforward approach might have done. It may well have been an attempt to capture the fractured head-state of a coke fiend, in which case I can't really judge its effectiveness as I've never been a coke enthusiast, but cinematically it wears thin pretty quickly Still, at least the film abandons the splashes of awful generic "extreme" metal on the soundtrack that might have ruined the whole thing, in favor of creepy drones which go down much smoother. I'm not sure there's much more to say really. As an extreme cinema fan I didn't think this one was that good, as an art fan I thought similar. It is at least pretty watchable throughout though, and occasionally rather gnarly. Maybe others will be better disposed to appreciate it than I, but I can sadly only give a minor positive.