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H6: Diary of a Serial Killer (DVD)

H6 DVD review (click to see it larger!)Starring Fernando Acaso, Raquel Arenas, Ramon Del Pomar, Antonio Mayans

Directed by Martin Garrido Barono

Released by Tartan Films


When I was first sent his movie by the folks at Tartan, which seems like it was a very long time ago, I remember having my curiosity peaked by a note with the screener; “A Spanish version of Hostel“. Now, I’m not the biggest Hostel fan you could ask for, but I always dug the concept and the Spanish are notorious for doing things better than us as of late.

It was also a departure for Tartan, who to date had made their reputation with a string of Asian horror tiles under the Asia Extreme label, as well as some strange art house fare. Why would they want to put out something so unlike what fans were used to?

The answer became clear right away. Though not without it’s flaws, H6 is one of the most visceral, disturbing serial killer movies I’ve seen to date. The story follows Antonio Frau (Acaso), set free from prison after being incarcerated 15 years earlier for killing his girlfriend in a fit of rage. Freedom is precious to Frau, and when he learns that one of his estranged relatives has died and left him the sole heir of her former whorehouse, he sees it as a sign to continue the work he believes God has sent him down to Earth for.

H6 DVD review (click to see it larger!)He feels he is a savior, of sorts. He wants to help cleanse the souls of all those who have lost themselves in this world; those who are hooked on drugs and see no way out of life other than a horrible, lonely death. He believes he can help them get right with God, as it were, so they may go to Him freely when their time comes. A noble calling, surely, its just his methods that are most questionable.

He sanctions off one of the rooms in the disused whorehouse to use for this cleansing process. He takes in transient women from the streets, ties them down to a table, and over the course of days, sometimes weeks, rapes and humiliates them on a daily basis, the whole time asking them to question just what it was that lead them to him. When he feels that either they are ready to move on or another lost soul, he takes a chainsaw to them and feeds the pieces to his wife for dinner.

His wife is no saint, either, having an illicit affair with one of the doctors at the hospital she works at, but she is blissfully ignorant of what goes on in Room 6 thanks to her working the night shift. She has some suspicions, after all her husband was jailed for killing someone, but never bothers to look too deeply into her suspicions until it’s too late.

H6 DVD review (click to see it larger!)What makes H6so ultimately effective is that, until the very end, Frau is one cold calculating monster. He’s keeping a diary of every detail of every victim he brings into his home and we learn through voiceover just how methodical he is about what he does. He wants to be remembered long after his death, studied and researched; he wants immortality. He feels no remorse, no regret or guilt for what he’s done; he believes until the very end that his morals are in the right place. The only time this veneer drops is after he’s been caught and been away from his wife for six months; when she comes to see him he’s acting noticeably crazier than before; all learning stares and innuendos, which feels out of place from the rest of the film.

Unfortunately Tartan weren’t able to do much with the DVD release for H6, despite numerous release date shifts that I had hoped were to secure more features. The picture is obviously sharp and crisp (if not a bit too dark at times), though the overall tone of the film is very neutral so you won’t see too any vibrant differences in colors. The sound is what works best to get under your skin, especially during some of the more harrowing scenes in Room 6. Hearing the chainsaw going and the girl screaming all around you is likely to make even the hardest core fan a bit squeamish.

The only feature to speak of are some interviews conducted with star Acaso, which is the most interesting as he discusses how he got into the twisted mind of this serial killer, director Baron and co-star Alejo Sauras (who’s only actually in the movie for about 5 minutes). Not a lot of insight into how the film was made or its inspirations, but I guess it’s better than nothing, right?

H6: Diary of a Serial Killer is not a movie for anyone; if scenes of helpless women being victimized really gets under your skin, don’t bother with this one. Though there is more to the film than that, as it’s ultimately a story of the duality of life and the futility of the legal system, most people won’t be able to get past the misogynistic overtones. It is, however, a very well made, intelligent and truly horrific serial killer movie, something that is all too rare these days.

Special Features:
Interview with director Martin Garrido Baron
Interview with actor Fernando Asaco
Trailer

MOVIE

4 out of 5

DVD

2 out of 5

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Johnny Butane