Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Bunny Game (2010)

The terror you witness on-screen of The Bunny Game is real. Let me clarify…it’s not just realistic…it actually happened. It’s like watching a snuff film, only no one really died during filming (as far as we know). The actors weren’t merely acting, but they were subjected to most everything you see on film. Ballsy actress Rodleen Getsic gives a graphic blowjob, pees in public, is shaved bald and is actually branded in the film, not to mention the preparation that went into her role as an emaciated, drug-addled prostitute. Getsic fasted for over a month to prepare for her role! As you probably have guessed by now, The Bunny Game isn’t your ordinary horror movie. In fact, it feels more like a brutal snuff film coupled with avant-garde performance art.

The film is about a hard-knock prostitute named Bunny (Getsic) who trolls the streets of LA turning tricks and snorting coke whenever she gets the chance. This prostitute certainly doesn’t have a heart of gold, but nonetheless you feel pretty bad for her as you watch her engage in graphic sexual acts, get high, get raped and get robbed. Things go from bad to worse when she is picked up by a trucker (Jeff F. Renfro) who takes her out to the desert and brutalizes her for days on end.

While the plot might make it seem like just another torture flick, let me assure you that The Bunny Game is anything but. Is there torture? Well, yes, but it’s more the nasty psychological kind that sticks with you for days, rather than straight-up blood and guts. And the intense psychological wringer that the film puts both the victim (Getsic) and viewer through makes the film seem that much more realistic, which, believe me, will further raise the audience’s anxiety! And after all the things the cast (namely Getsic) went through, it is no wonder the film feels so authentic!

Director Adam Rehmeier, who co-wrote the film with actress Getsic, says the film wasn’t written with a strict script (there is very little dialogue) and most of the performances came organically from the actors. They were just sorta let loose on one another and given license to go as dark as they could…and, boy, did they ever go dark! Not only were the performances spontaneous, but so was the camerawork. Most scenes were filmed in only one take (usually unheard of in a film), which only adds to the immediacy and realism of the film.

The film also has a very voyeuristic feel, which adds to the snuff-like, performance art quality of it. The shaky camera angles, the constant zooming in and out and so on really make you feel like you are right there with the characters. And no matter how hard you try and get away (or look away), you just can’t.

Despite its shocking brutality, there isn’t that much blood and gore, if that’s what you’re hoping for. Most of its terror comes from psychological torture. Bunny is just as mentally broken down by the trucker as she is physically abused. He locks her up for days and submits her to all kinds of torment – stripping her down, humiliating her body, flashing a spotlight in her eyes, chaining her up, taking her for walks on a leash, shaving her head, etc. And that doesn’t even begin to detail the physical and sexual abuse he perpetuates against her. It is this kind of damaging psychological horror that is most effective, at least in my opinion. Anyone can do gross-out blood and guts, but it takes real talent to get into the audience’s brains and truly disturb them.

Congratulations are in order for director/co-writer Rehmeier and co-writer Getsic, because they have crafted a hauntingly unsettling film! It may be intensely difficult to sit through, but at least it looks stunning and isn’t just a point-and-shoot affair. There are even some beautifully dynamic shots in the film that momentarily relieve you of the brutality on-screen. It is filmed completely in black and white, which gives it a monochromatic and artistic look.

However, even the way the film is shot echoes the manic madness of the film, for juxtaposed against the gorgeously framed shots are choppy, disorienting edits, frantic shaky cam shots, voyeuristic zooms and more to make the viewer experience even further discomfort. Even the music, which features chaotic metal in the first few scenes but devolves into a creepy score as the film progresses, adds heightened emotion to scenes that are already difficult to watch…And just when you think you can’t possibly take anymore the next scene comes up to further test your limits.

I can only use “disturbing”, “unsettling” and their derivatives so much to describe The Bunny Game, but hopefully by now you get the point. This film definitely isn’t for most people, but if you like challenging films that push limits, you should give The Bunny Game a view. It’s probably the closest you’ll ever get to a snuff film!

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