Directed by Taylor Sheridan
Stop me if you’ve heard this before: A group of people are rendered unconscious in a surprise attack and awaken in a strange building only to find that they are now unwitting pawns in a nefarious scheme. A scheme which, naturally, will involve each member of the group being forced to be both the dealer and recipient of torturous suffering. Yep, you guessed it – we’re firmly in so-called “torture porn” territory with Taylor Sheridan’s pitiful Vile.
In this particular slice of the subgenre, said group consists of a bunch of friends who stop to pick up a hitchhiking MILF and find themselves summarily drugged. Awakening with vials implanted in the base of their skulls (which of course are instantly fatal if removed), a grinning professional type informs them via TV screens that they have a certain length of time to fill these vials with a specific amount of brain fluid. Fluid that is most easily produced during bouts of extreme pain. You can see where this is going already, can’t you? Along with another band of unlucky subjects, they all get together to bring the pain to each other and share the burden of reaching their target.
Vile strips the torture porn flick right down to its bare minimum. There is literally no reason for the film to exist beyond the exhibition of scenes of torture, especially considering the characters are paper-thin archetypes, complete and utter morons, or just total assholes. Maybe not a bad thing if, going in with a title like that, you’re merely looking for some nasty gore and nihilistic body shock, but no – for some reason, perhaps budgetary, Vile actually shies away from much in the way of wanton brutality and bloodshed, instead opting for repeated scenes of ineffectively shot and edited fingernail pulling and off-screen shrieking. This leaves it bearing the notion that perhaps the work is intended as a subversion of the genre, designed to have us care about the protagonists and perhaps ask deeper questions of ourselves and our appreciation for cinema that depicts callous violence visited on innocents. In any case, it fails absolutely.
It’s a rare moment when any of this nonsense feels worthwhile, with most of the runtime spent wishing for it to just get to the damned point and maybe, just maybe, bring something but utter banality to the table. The only things that even comes close are the knowingly twisted final scenes; however, the twist that precedes it is trite, and the background to the entire plot is so undercooked that it’s still twitching. During the introductory video the mysterious captor informs the group that the apparently much-needed cerebral fluid is also released, in lesser quantities, during sex. When not one of the people involved immediately clap their hands and say, “Let’s get orgy-in’!” instead of heading straight for the pliers, you just know you’re watching some absolute bullshit. Fuck your sister, or take a couple of busted kneecaps? Now there’s a choice that’s truly vile.
Vile is slow, shallow, hackneyed, criminally boring and almost totally bereft of any gory goods that might, in some small manner, make up for its sins. Don’t be roped in by the title expecting to get your blood-lusting rocks off in exchange for foregoing legitimate characterisation and filmmaking talent. It has nothing from any of these camps to offer.
1/2 out of 5