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Reviewed by: JimmyO

Directed by: Karim Hussain

Brea Asher
Ivaylo Founev
Christopher Piggins

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What's it about
Subconscious Cruelty is a morbidly strange look into the human psyche and the devils and saints that inspire and corrupt each one of us. Or maybe it’s just a really f*cked up chance to look at shocking gore and nudity. And when I say gore and nudity, I mean LOTS of gore and nudity.
Is it good movie?
Birth… Death… Sex… Nature… Religion… These were a few of the very basic and simple ideas explored in Subconscious Cruelty. And as I watched some of the most nightmarish images that I have seen in a film, I was hypnotized. This is a dirty, unapologetic and brutal look at such sacred issues as the ones mentioned. It is easy to make a shocking piece of cinema. Just think of something to offend someone and exploit it. This is a time where people almost have a need to be offended just to show they have “morals”. But this particular film is not just shock value. I’m sure director Karim Hussain and producer Mitch Davis knew they would mortify many people but this is not the ultimate goal. This is a journey designed to make you think… to make you feel and maybe even affect the way you view the world.

The truth is, I was offended by this movie. It wasn’t the religious aspect with the character of Jesus Christ and his suffering. Or even the most painful jerk-off session you could ever imagine. It was the “childbirth” sequence. I did not want to go where they took me. I was truly disgusted with the action that took place in that half hour or so of movie magic. What kind of mind would want to do what is done here? But then again, what kind of mind would want to trivialize violence and add some clever dialogue to make it “okay” to watch such atrocities? This movie is not an easy ride. You are forced into many things that if you agree to watch you will not leave unaffected. This is a raw and sometimes beautiful journey that most importantly, will make you think.

"So what is this movie about?", you may ask. It is structured in a nonlinear form presenting ideas more than a story. They include a brother’s desire for his pregnant sister. A businessman obsessed with jerking off to pornography. And a modern day torture of Jesus Christ. And if any of this offends you… DO NOT SEE IT. It is presented with very little dialogue aside from the narrative that comes from the deranged brother. One of the most important elements aside from the often graphic images are the sound design by David Kristian and the musical score by Teruhiko Suzuki. The sound, music and images create an unforgettable film experience. And as I said, many of the images in this film are more like nightmares with top-notch (for its budget) special effects. This is more of an experience than a film; a nightmarish look at the nature of humanity at its most deprived.
Video / Audio
Video: Original 1.33:1 Full Frame plus additional 1.66:1 Letterbox Option. The video looked pretty good for this film. Probably as good as they could have gotten.

Audio: 5.1 Dolby Digital this actually sounded quite good especially since the sound is such an important part of this film.
The Extras
This is a fantastic 2-Disc DVD loaded with extras and a very interesting packaging with an informative booklet entitled Transgression and Redemption? Annotations on the transgressive cinema of Karim Hussain and Mitch Davis with both English and German text, a very interesting read.

The first extra is the Mitch Davis short film Divided into Zero (33:59) which includes an introduction (from Mitch Davis) to the short. I was not terribly impressed with this particular film, which is about the 70 year time-line of a child killer. I felt that it took too much time in its half-hour to tell the story. Too many scenes seemed to build up to the shocking crimes of this man but I didn’t feel very involved. This is still an interesting watch.

Included in the extras for this short are, The Making of Divided into Zero (12:21) which was pretty interesting and if you are going to watch the short, you might as well watch this. There is also a Mitch Davis Interview which is one of those click and read DVD interviews but I think this guy has some interesting insight and it is a good read. And finally we have Clips from Early Short Films by Mitch Davis somewhat interesting but it is basically watching a bunch of scenes from some student films. So, do with that what you will.

And now for the most important extra here; A Subconscious Cruelty Christmas (77:20) which is a very detailed “behind the scenes” documentary sandwiched between a Christmas party with the cast and crew. This is a very entertaining look at the creation of the scenes and the number of years it took to complete the film (6 ˝ folks). Actor Chris Piggins gives some fascinating insight on the hell he went through to make the film including lying in a freezing water fall completely naked for several hours. And most importantly it gives some insight on the make-up effects that looked a little too real at times. This is a must see and it is actually more entertaining than the movie itself.

We have another short film; this time it is Karim Hussain co-directing and co-writing with Julien Fonfrčde. The film is called La Derničre Voix (12:42) which translates to “The City without Windows”. This is a dark and poetic story of a French city where the windows have disappeared while the rain pours continuously spreading disease and general discomfort. This is a pretty film and it was nice to see Karim do something like this, so far off from “Subconscious Cruelty”. This is considered science fiction yet it felt more like a gothic romance; although if you want the nudity, it’s here along with a little blood.

There is also an Unreleased Audio Track which lasts nine minutes. The piece was from David Kristian’s movement “Eaten by Trees”. Very nice. but not much of a watch... The music plays and we get a little text about what we are hearing. The text discusses the piece and how it was used in the “Ovarian Eyeball” sequence of the film. Interesting, but I’m willing to bet most won’t stick with it for nine minutes.

Then we have a Comic Strip inspired by Cruelty. This strip originally appeared in The Montreal Mirror on April 12th, 2001. It earned the artist Rick Trembles, numerous death threats. Pretty interesting feature, even though it’s another click and read.

And finally we have a Photo Gallery. It’s a photo gallery… so do what that what you will.

All of these features are on the second disc while the first disc (aside from the feature) also contains a detailed introduction to the film by director Karim Hussain and the Trailer. If this is your kind of movie than this DVD is a must have. Those of you who would not appreciate it or offend easily but are still curious… Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Last Call
If you want an entertaining night out with some popcorn and a soda with your girlfriend/boyfriend in tow… this is NOT it. But if you want to be challenged, forced to face a very dark side of humanity and yet still be enthralled… this is the movie for you. I was disturbed yet I did not want to look away. Karim Hussain is a major talent who created the ultimate nightmare. Some will be sickened; some will be bored to tears… But others, if they are open to the experience, will be rewarded with sight, sound and possibly an appreciation that your life has to be better than those poor souls in this movie. And yes… It is only a movie.
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