In better hands Sixteen Tongues could have been a real gem. Ferrara maybe, or Cronenberg, or better yet some slime crusted, fork dicked hybrid of the two, Ferrara's pointed grime and Cronenberg's art and smarts. Sadly writer/director Scooter McRae isn't fit to shine the balls of either of the aforementioned, let alone a super-being made of their best qualities, but he comes up with a pretty watchable slice of underground trash nonetheless. Things even start rather well, opening credits laid over blue tinted extreme close ups of body parts mixed with strobe lighting, it sets up the films central theme of body overpowering, magnified, perverted, we see belly as plain, breasts as heaping dunes, flesh as landscape. And where the body is not just vessel for the mind in the world but world itself, what place is there for the mind? Then pretty much the first scene of the film is a freaky disfigured guy taunting a hooded prisoner before raping him in the mouth and shooting him in the head. Regrettably after this auspicious opening the film settles into a somewhat slow, repetitious groove and I'll wager many will find it deeply tedious. The plot switches to a female assassin and her hacker girlfriend shacked up in an incredibly seedy hotel (here you have to pay to turn the porn off), they argue, screw and pursue a nebulous vengeance, matters coming to a head with the arrival of the earlier disfigured gent. It all ends in suitably violent fashion which will either come as a relief or a fitting finale depending on your patience. Me, I liked it well enough. Starlets Jane Chase and Alice Liu are mostly naked during the film, and while both are shot and made up to look kinda dorky and unappealing they got at least the ghost of a rise out of me. Also both of them (as well as Crawford Chase as the sinister disfigured dude) perform with commitment, the ennui they bring feels organic rather than an unintentional side effect of the film-making, their dulled tones, flares of tired anger, blurts of frenzy, it works in a gritty sort of manner. The general design is effective too, cheapest hotel imaginable but with pornographic trapping everywhere, even the odd full on mannequin. Everything works together to put across notions of body, mind and control, ideas that are not especially developed, rather interesting tones, together a lulling, darkly ambient experience. I wouldn't necessarily recommend this to anyone that isn't a devotee of underground cyberpunk themed trash, but to those on the same wonky wavelength (myself for example), its a nice little watch. 6/10.
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