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Donkey Punch (2008,UK)

30/08/2011

Director: Oliver Blackburn     Starring: Sian Breckin, Nicola Burley, Jaime Winstone, Tom Burke, Julian Morris, Jay Taylor, Robert Boulter

Why is it that most horror films of the last few years seem to feature the most irritating stereotypes of young people imaginable? Maybe it’s me, maybe I’m just getting to that age where all young people aggravate me by their very existence. If that’s the case though, it doesn’t explain my tolerance to teen protagonists in seventies and eighties horror films where even the most annoying ones don’t get on my nerves nearly as much as the so called heroes and heroines of many contemporary films.

Donkey Punch is a case in point. Three young women meet a group of lads whilst on holiday in a Mediterranean resort and take them up on their invitation to party on the luxury yacht that is, thanks to the owner being away, currently in their care. Cue an alcohol and drug fuelled orgy that results in one of the death of one of the girls when an attempt at the titular sexual practice goes horribly wrong. Panic ensues as the group differ over what course of action to take in order to avoid prosecution, broadly splitting the group into the boys who want to cover it up and the girls who just want to go home. As the guys try to enforce their views on the girls the whole thing turns into a fight for survival, with everyone turning on each other.

What is obviously supposed to be a taught, claustrophobic, psychological horror ends up as a rather dull, fruitless exercise thanks mostly to that age old problem of creating characters that you not only don’t feel afraid for but who you actively want to see get their comeuppance. I do not and will never understand the insistence on filmmakers on parading these sub-Skins excuses for characters in front of audiences with any expectation that the audience is going to sympathise with them. Once this most important of elements is left by the wayside all that is left is petty voyeurism, amounting to little more than the softest of porn combined with a series of tensionless killings to thin the crowd.

Add to this the absurdity of almost everything that happens. Who thinks giving someone suffering from a stab wound and in danger of bleeding to death a fistful of cocaine is a good idea that will prolong their life? If you are stranded at sea with a bunch of people you don’t know who suggest everyone sticks to a woman overboard story to explain away a death why would you disagree? When you have witnessed the single minded self preservation instinct of the main villain of the piece why would you hesitate when you had him at gunpoint? If you’d cracked a glass door why would you suddenly decide you need to run through it instead of using the object you cracked it with to finally smash it? Ask Olly, because he seems to think any and all of these things are perfectly plausible.

Is this really what filmmakers think of their audiences? Presumably the fact that Olly Blackburn hasn’t directed anything since is an indication that you can’t treat your viewers with this level of contempt and hope to make a career out of it. Crass and predictable don’t cover it. Compare this to say, Dead Calm, a 1989 high seas thriller that while not being particularly good at least manages to maintain a sense of dramatic tension with half the characters and you have to wonder how Blackburn managed to drop the ball so spectacularly here.

Between the flimsy writing, lacklustre performances and amateurish filmmaking there really is no reason to watch this film at all. It’s not even so bad it’s good, merely dull and uninteresting. The worst part of it is that as a concept it is not without merits and with some (pretty serious) tweaking could have made for a passable psycho horror experience. Instead it is little more than mediocre, voyeuristic rubbish. Avoid.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. 18/09/2011 01:20

    I will

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