Saturday, 8 December 2012

The Gateway Meat (2008) Ron DeCaro

Right from the outset The Gateway Meat both attracted and irritated me. Amusingly it's made by "For the Good of Mankind Productions". Then there's a warning about content, noting that the film has extreme religious and political views expressed alongside the standard bad taste and nastiness, that these views are satirical and not held by the film-makers. Really, if the satire in your film is worth a damn you really shouldn't have to tell people about it up front, and actually you shouldn't do it in any case unless you happen to be a couple of cartoonist genii with a long term plan to take the piss out of everyone. There follows a bit of text explaining the background, values of the Love Generation drowned by cellphones, George W. Bush assassinated by religious extremists, and a nice Satanist family trying to go about their business. It comes across somewhat juvenile, the sort of thing that might amuse as a spoken word introduction to a cheesy apocalyptic industrial concept album but is just clumsy on screen.

But when things properly get rolling they satisfy well enough, with a couple of the common pitfalls for the latter day US schock genre avoided. The film has a sense of pace and progression to its nastiness, instead of starting with the dial at 11 and then trying to f#ck the meter into oblivion, or spraying the whole shop with kid gravy in the opening five minutes and then spending the remaining hour reluctantly cleaning up. The grisly acts get more gruesome as the film goes on, so there's a happy modicum of suspense and surprise. Also the characters actually communicate and appear at times as a cohesive unit rather than constantly howling profanities and mindlessly beating each other. So they didn't tire me out almost immediately in the same way as say, the August Underground cats. This isn't to say that the characters aren't vulgar and vicious though, or well developed, or that the story is well handled. The story is potentially fascinating (this was actually what initially got me interested in the film), an inversion of the classic hero narrative in which a man must live up to the ideals and prowess of his master Satanist grandad and commit terrible deeds in order to open a portal to Hell. Unfortunately this is mostly put over by voice over and the characters never really move, there's little internal urgency here. Worse, the story has little growth or resolution, the film is apparently part of a trilogy and badly feels it, somewhat truncated and simplified. And while the worst experimental tendencies of the genre are avoided, there's still overuse of dizzy fade edits and jerky camera work.

All shortcomings aside though, I had a pretty solid hour and five minutes with this one. It isn't too overbearing or pretentious, the effects are of a decent standard and there's even one scene with a bit of fabled nastiness I've never encountered in film before. Even if pretty minor stuff all round this was pretty pleasing, and so I'd recommend it to fans of the whole trash extremity scene for sure. Just you know, not a classic or anything...

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