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A young woman named Clara is captured by a serial killer named Leonard who records his "life story" by keeping a scrapbook of his many victims. In addition to adhering Polaroids, scraps of clothing, and other small trophies to the pages, Leonard has forced his victims to personally write in the scrapbook about their individual ordeals. Clara is beaten, raped, starved, and locked up like an animal, filthy and naked. She is forced to write in the scrapbook, adding her agony to the pages. She soon realizes that her only hope for survival is to manipulate Leonard through her writings in his cherished scrapbook. Written by
Scrapbooking, a hobby that has increased in popularity in recent years, is, according to Wikipedia, 'a method for preserving a legacy of written history in the form of photographs, printed media, and memorabilia contained in decorated albums'. In Scrapbook, a low budget indie horror from director Eric Stanze, serial-killer Leonard (Tommy Biondo) blends polaroids, news cuttings and handwritten journals from his victims to produce a detailed account of his career as a killer: a scrapbook twelve years in the making and a labour of love which he hopes will one day make him famous.
Leonard has only one more victim to document until his project is complete: Clara (Emily Haack), a chubby bird with a very bad haircut. He subjects her to days upon days of degradation, rape and violence, whilst forcing her to add her comments to his sick journal. But Clara plans to survive her ordeal, and plays mind games with her captor, until, one day, she turns the tables on him and wreaks revenge.
Now I've watched a fair amount of 'underground' horror in my time, and witnessed all sorts of celluloid depravity, but in my opinion Stanze's Scrapbook goes just that bit further than most in an effort to shock. A nasty, misogynistic catalogue of torture, it seems that this movie's purpose is to offend, and in that it definitely succeeds. Use it as a yardstick to measure your tolerance to disturbing imagery, but don't ever call it art.
Biondo spends 95 minutes abusing Haack's character in every manner possible, with no detail spared by Stanze's camera. Haack, an 'actress' with obviously no shame, willingly degrades herself at every opportunity; exactly what makes someone want to perform such acts on film, I shall never know.
I tried to view this film as an intense study of psychotic behaviour (ala Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer), but Biondi's Leonard is so OTT, he is hard to take seriously. I tried to view it as a hard-edged 'rape/revenge' movie, in which the viewers sense of satisfaction at witnessing the victim's ultimate retribution justifies earlier scenes of violencebut the payoff is too weak to qualify it as such. And its story and level of acting is not good enough to make it a truly gripping tale about survival against the odds. In the end, I accepted it for what it really is: an effectively repugnant little movie designed purely to illicit a reactiongood or badfrom those who watch it.
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