05 Oct Robert Picardo Gives a Chilling, Dexter-esque Performance in Sensored
FlixFling Team Member Katie reviews the serial killer horror film Sensored :
Upon viewing this film with no previous knowledge save for the FlixFling synopsis, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by this little horror flick. It begins with a beautifully crafted title sequence that adds a creepy sense of foreboding to set up the next hundred minutes of slowly unfurling chaos. The first-person narration by Wade (the protagonist) operates in a Dexter-esque manner, and is undoubtedly one of the film’s many inspirations. Wade presents a litany of platitudes and recounts the past suffering that made him the successful serial killer he is presently. One of the axioms he repeats throughout the film is “I have the ability to create new worlds just by looking out the window.” This is true for both his children’s stories and his victims, whose minds he controls with a careful use of torture and drugs. He lives his life like the typical serial killer: a recluse without any known family or friends, and a house mirroring his obsessive compulsion.
Seeing a loved one suffer is a fate worse than death to most, and this is Wade’s most essential tool. The film cuts to a man in a nitrous mask with feet barely dangling above some gruesome spikes watching his sister being drowned. And you think you’re having a rough day. Wade revives her, but only to asphyxiate her a few minutes later. Okay, now I’m a bit perplexed. As it turns out that’s another part of his killing rules; his method consists of confusing his victims (I’m pretty confused right now!), creating an emotional bond (well it was his sister, so I assume there is one), then shattering that bond with, what else, but pain! Both the actor (Robert Picardo whom you may know from Stargate if you’re a nerd) and writer do an exemplary job of making Wade both appalling and sympathetic. Unlike Dexter, whose sympathy is intensified by the fact that he’s sexy, you can’t help but feel for his painfully awkward self during his scenes with his neighbor, Gayle, who begins as the seemingly stereotypical pathetic awkward neighbor chick and then comes to life in subsequent scenes. We also meet agent Jeffries (David Fine, who apparently is known for playing homeless and sketchy people with gritty verisimilitude according to his IMDb page), who apparently knows Wade’s secret, and is protecting him while he practices his non-coercive interrogation techniques. What a swell guy. He is angered by the discovery of Wade becoming a published author, insisting he cannot be a civilian and exist in this world like a normal person because of who he is. I tend to agree on that point.
One of the most notable scenes in this film is the dinner between Wade and Gayle. Like the classic pathetic recluse she is, she brings a casserole (seriously who likes casseroles?) and some wine to Wade’s house, all the while one of Wade’s victims is attempting to escape from his torture dungeon. Uh oh. The juxtaposition of Wade being pressured to eat the grotesque looking casserole with the victim’s frantic escape beautifully build tension which is ultimately quelled by Wade bonking him on the head. The film becomes a bit muddled as to what is real and what is not throughout this film, which is completely intentional on the filmmaker’s part, but at times it takes away from the present action when each character and their purpose are obfuscated.
I will not spoil the ending of the film, but I have to say I am delighted that, though I saw a couple twists coming, I could not predict all of them before they were revealed. Many horror films rely on their twist to make or break the movie, and this one is no exception. At the last minute this film completely subverted what I thought was going to be a stereotypically cliché twist ending, the Shyamalan twist if you will. One of the greatest achievements of this film is the photography; many of the shots are as stunning as they are horrifying, and elicit myriad emotions ranging from disgust to delight from the viewer. The filmmakers did an excellent job building Wade’s surreal world, even if it did unfold a bit too slowly at many points, it still managed to hold the tension and fright that make this film successful.