In a sweaty Texas bar, a customer (Tony Wolford) is surveyed by a pair of men (Justin Meeks and Reese Hunt) with sinister designs on him. This is confirmed when he wakes up in a woman's nightgown, in a remote woodland area, where he is beaten and subjected to a grisly ritual by the nasty duo, wearing Pagan garb. Subsequently, he is frazzled in a makeshift electric chair, before things get really weird
Moody, bleak and hallucinatory, the appropriately named VOLTAGEN has all the traits that made the filmmaker's longer HEADCHEESE such a visceral achievement. With rapid cutting and camera-work that pulls us into the harsh action, this might deal with extreme mental states over its eight minutes but is an astonishingly physical piece of work emphasized in no small part when Inur Jizur and Dura Celloid (the two torturers) beat the victim, known in the credits as 'Tortured Soul'. The camera doesn't watch passively while he is pummeled; instead, it whips down to follow the motion of every blow. No one who sees this film will be allowed to sit in an idle state of comfort and the image of the two pagans drawing blood from the backs of their throats by stabbing a knife through their mouth is a real jolter, that also clues us into the emphatic commitment of the attackers. Likewise (in the vein of Graves' and Meeks' other films I've seen) filmed in black and white, VOLTAGEN is all the more harsh for its stark visual contrasts of dark and light areas, and is memorable for its stylistic prowess as well as its off kilter content.
What VOLTAGEN lacks in comparison to HEADCHEESE's thorough and confrontational depiction of a diseased mind, it makes up for with ambiguity and one stunning set piece. That scene, in which oculists Jizur and Celloid fry the poor man, is a thrilling moment in extreme cinema. The electric chair itself is a wonderfully inventive collage: objects culled from the everyday a metal dog bowl (to fit the victim's head, conducting the electricity), a belt (to hold it on), and a suffocating cloth (covering his face) take on a sadistic dimension, as well as constituting the type of weird juxtaposition of mundane elements that embodies surrealism at its best. The 'voltage' is put to full use; cue some effective 'light bending' special effects as the man's skin quivers in electric vibrations. This 'tremble' effect is applied superbly, emphasizing the crackling energy that courses through the tortured soul's ravaged body. Rapid cutting enhances this truly kinetic feel, and the increasingly tight close shots emphasize waves of energy that seem ready to break through not only the man's body, but through the screen: the film's mesmerizing hold is infectious.
The end, when the film spirals into different layers of consciousness, is not only a weird piece of narrative symmetry that takes us within and then without a bizarre mind. This multi- layered treat also makes us wonder what goes through the mind of the distracted looking person who stands near to you in the local bar.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?