Director – Simon Hynd
Cast – Jason Behr, Emma Catherwood, Joe Ferrara, Jacques Kerr, Helen Mallon, Toby Marlow, Sean O’Kane
Release Year – 2008
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Ever since the popularity of the awesome 2004 film Saw, many film have built off of what some refer to as “torture porn”, although I will never refer to a film as such unless it simply does not offer me anything else other than torture. Saw gave me a sweet moral complex, and I thought this film was going to avoid the “torture porn” label by giving me something I had never really seen before in a horror film…terrorists. I went into this one with high hopes due to its plot and subject matter, but left this experience under-whelmed.
Senseless stars Jason Behr(The Grudge remake) as Eliott Gast, a rich executive on a three week trip to France to secure some very important accounts. Late one night after jazzing up with some potential investors he is kidnapped and throw in the trunk of a car. He awakes hours later in a sealed yet somewhat comfortable white room with numerous cameras throughout. His captors are secretive over the exact reasons for his capture, but he will soon find out when the torture begins, torture that will be broadcasted live for the entire world to see.
I really wanted to like this film. Personally, I am a fan of films that endorse the protagonist waking up in a random and solemn room with little to no recollection of why or how they got there. Now the fact that this flick deals with terrorists is pretty cool because we never really get that element in the horror genre, so that as well lead me to believe I would enjoy this watch. Ultimately, I was wrong, and for a number of reasons having to do with writing and execution.
Story-wise this is based on a novel by Stona Fitch, and I will tell you now that I have not read nor did I even know about the novel when I went into this watch. In some ways I actually prefer this because it keeps me from holding anything against this film for it not matching up with the novel in some areas, so I will not balk at that. Writer/director Simon Hynd obviously tries to put this film off as a horror/drama, with mostly drama taking place and bits of horrific scenes here and there. The problems with the story are that the antagonists are not only not interesting but completely unlikable to the fullest extent. I try and find some type of joy in the antagonist because I want to see the protagonist fight against a formidable foe, but in the end these “terrorists” were just a bunch of sissies that had no business doing what they were doing. The political presence in this film is high, and comes as the reason behind the torture that Eliott Gast endures. This is a UK film, and with the Anti-American imperialism tone we get throughout the film I cannot say that this film’s message is not hidden propaganda, something that belongs nowhere near the horror genre.
The execution in this film was good at first, but as the film progressed I found myself losing interest as the runtime increased. This is not a good thing given the more “good stuff” that went on the more I lost my interest in the film. Execution is everything, ESPECIALLY if the film involves very few characters and a bleak storyline. It is definitely possible for a film with such features to be a great watch, but the execution must be top-notch, and in this film Simon Hynd was not top-notch.
One positive note that I must touch on was the performance from Jason Behr, who’s on-screen presence covered about 90 percent of the runtime. I have seen Jason Behr perform fairly well in his other films, but he really shows some true talent with his performance in this piece. Granted, a film like this should have the ability to push an actor into the performance of a lifetime(although a lot of times it does not for some reason) and it did just that for Jason Behr.
Overall, this is a mediocre watch that I would not recommend unless something about what you have just read interests you enough to take the risk of watching a film with lame antagonists and a bleak storyline.