Andrew Garfield, Mahershala Ali, Ruth Negga, and five others received their first-ever acting nominations for 2017. While these actors are new to the Academy Awards, you may recognize them from their earlier work.
Loosely based on serial killer Henry Lee Lucas, the film follows Henry and his roommate Otis who Henry introduces to murdering randomly selected people. The killing spree depicted in the film starts after Otis' sister Becky comes to stay with them. The people they kill are strangers and in one particularly gruesome attack, kill all three members of a family during a home invasion. Henry lacks compassion in everything he does and isn't the kind to leave behind witnesses - of any kind. Written by
The real Henry Lee Lucas had one of the worst childhoods that I have ever had the misfortune of reading about. Growing up in Texas, he lived with a family that was totally dysfunctional. He grew up in a shack, that had nothing more than a dirt floor. The father being a legless alcoholic, literally as well as figuratively. The mother worked as a prostitute. Henry was also forced into sexual activity with her clients. They forced him to dress as a girl and then would proceed to have sex with him. He was a child that grew up being raped.
He then grew up with such an intense rage that he became a serial killer. Are we surprised? Now, I am not trying to justify his behaviour. Rather, I am pointing out the fact that these people do not just fall out of the sky. There is no such thing as an inexplicable evil. That is, the person is just evil because they are. Yes, there seems to be some genetic evidence for psychopaths. However the majority do not become killers. The ones who become killers are made. If you are truly interested in what makes a psychopath, I suggest you read, 'Not Guilty by reason of Insanity ' by Dorothy Otnow Lewis. Serial killers are often portrayed as being like Hannibal Lecter. Smart and talented creatures that have suddenly lost their moral code. The truth is most are a psychological mess. Losers that are full of conflicting emotions. There is also strong evidence to suggest that these people are made by a specific form of brain damage. Basically when you combine trauma in childhood and frontal lobe brain damage, you end up with Henry.
This movie is what happens when people are treated in an utterly horrific way. Michael Rooker is excellent as a psychopath who seems normal but deep down harbours a psychotic rage against society. He and Otis travel around killing. Why? Why not? The pointlessness of their lives is perfectly captured. People complain about the lack of plot. I think it perfectly captures the plot. It shows the emptiness of these characters. In fact Henry and Otis feel nothing unless they are killing. The emotional side of the characters has been like killed off by previous abuses against them. They are not unlike the living dead. Even when Otis's sister shows some affection towards Henry he cannot reciprocate. He can't relate to people, he can only get off on torture and death. Yeah, this is shocking. But it is also incredibly sad.
Here in New Zealand there are many shocking drunk driving ads that they play to try and get people to stop this behaviour. I feel that this movie is like that. The movie is an ad for psychopaths, who they are and the dysfunctional psychological world that they inhabit. It is a film that honestly looks at these kinds of people. This certainly does not glorify these people, which is a criticism that has been levelled at the 'Silence of the Lambs' series. This is why I think it shocks people. The serial killer kills for visceral, physical pleasure. As Ted Bundy stated, 'I killed because I wanted to.' Maybe, this is where the film falls down. That the characters motivations are not explained well enough. But either way the viewer is given a shockingly realistic interpretation of a serial killers world.
Obviously this is a film that was made on a budget! But this just adds to the bleakness. In fact Chicago looks dirty, grimy and not like somewhere that you would visit. The performances of the rest of the cast are pretty average if not bad. So the film has some definite flaws. The exploitation factor is there. But then I think of films like Baise Moi and this film has nothing on that!
Overall I think this is an objective look at a world that those of us who come from normal backgrounds will find horrific. A world that we prefer would never exist, but however does exist. Maybe one day, as our society matures these people will cease to exist. Stories like these will become completely fictional. I really hope for that day. 7 out of 10.
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