PLOT: In one bout of revenge after another, a man who accidentally steps on an old landmine is forced to watch his buddy's girlfriend get vilely violated in the most heinous of ways. If he makes so much as a sudden movement off the mine...kaboom!
REVIEW: Four years on from co-trapping a foursome of unwitting dopes in 247 degrees of flesh melting steam, Georgian director Levan Bakhia graduates to a solo directorial achievement with LANDMINE GOES CLICK - a foul and nasty revenge picture that, while perhaps not quite as dark, earns its place to hang out a tier below such celebrated subgenre mainstays as LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE and to a lesser extent, STRAW DOGS (Peckinpah's). Not without its issues, mind you, but for a slickly conceited million dollar movie with only a handful of characters and a pair of locations, LANDMINE packs a f*cking powder keg of indefatigable hurt. Real shite, if you only dig brutal torture when avenged with even more barbaric terror, yes sir, go run toward the LANDMINE at once!
Chris (Sterling Knight), Alicia (Spencer Locke) and Daniel (Dean Geyer) are a trio of American tourists backpacking through the beauteous Georgian countryside. Europe that is, not the American south. When the threesome happen upon a grassy quarry in which to rest a bit and take a group photo, Chris inadvertently steps on an old landmine leftover from the war. Suddenly unable to make even the slightest move away from his post - or else his ass will blow to smithereens - the real horror begins when Daniel takes off (for reasons I won't state) and an oleaginous letch named Ilya (Kote Tolordava) shows up with his mangy mutt. This dude's a real piece of work. We're talking a first rate pervert with a despicable Brillo mullet and thinly veiled combover that would make Christian Bale's AMERICAN HUSTLE hairdo blush. Dude's disgusting. Even worse, Ilya feigns help at first, offering false hope for Chris and Alicia to make it out of this gimmicky yet harrowing situation relatively unscathed.
Then shit turns dark. Pitch. After a series of feeble rescue efforts, it becomes clear that Ilya has no real intention of actually aiding the ill-fated couple. Instead, he delights in taking advantage of the situation, namely in regards to the sexual degradation of Alicia. You know, perverted panty pilferage, ordering the poor girl crawl on the floor like a dog, that kind of thing. We're talking some deep-seeded depravity and demeaning behavior...the kind that ultimately devolves into the physical psychosexual abuse. Ilya is BAD LIEUTENANT grimy. Chris is forced to watch the whole thing go down, completely futile to do anything else. I must avoid explaining exactly how, but suffice it to say Chris somehow makes his way off of the landmine in one piece. This catapults a ferocious spree of recompense, as the boyish young American soon infiltrates Ilya's own abode, even ingratiating himself with the man's wife and daughter. Yup, it's f*cking payback time!
As alluded to above, this is where the flicks draws suitable parallels with stuff like LAST HOUSE, I SPIT and STRAW DOGS. The story swaps one vile act of barbarism for an even more unconscionable one, yet somehow we feel an odd sense of vigilante justice about it all. To that end, one's level of enjoyment will likely be contingent on how vindictive you are as a person. For me, a petty grudge-holder at times, I found the just desserts a bit too rich, too sweet, too decadent. In the end, answering a wrong with an even more heinous wrong doesn't necessarily make a right. Not too spoil too much, but I think the same sentiment is reflected in the final shots of Chris' reaction to how the action unfolds...perhaps a rueful profundity indicating he took the comeuppance a bit too far. Still, for a movie made for a mere million, there's an undeniable shock and awe factor here that movies 100-fold more expensive often fail to achieve. Real shite, this is a small flick that packs a major wallop in all the right areas. It's visceral, on-edge, well acted and consistently captivating.
My only real issue with LANDMINE is how quick it was to jump off of its well-premised gimmick. So much care and belief went into making such a novelty work as a setup, so the way in which the script is totally flipped halfway through, well, it sort of seems a bit of a copout. You'll know it when you see it, but for a movie that hinges so tightly on its high-concept, the exit out of it feels a bit lazy or cheap...even to the point of rendering the setup sort of silly in the first place. Thankfully, the juice ups the pulp quotient in the second half in a way that makes you forget the flippancy rather quickly. No joke, anything but silly is how you'd describe the film's finale, which sustains a ratcheted intensity all the way up until the heart-pulsing last frames. Good stuff here!
So look, if you have a penchant for the seedy, sordidness of flicks like LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT or I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE, definitely give LANDMINE GOES CLICK a trial run. While perhaps not quite as classic as those two (yet anyway), the flick boasts a compelling conceit that remains captivating throughout, even despite its miniscule cast, paltry budget and two locations. The craft and care that went into making the specific scenario believable comes across as more novel than gimmicky, and when such a premise is ditched altogether, the film shifts into a bloodily ruthless and relentless act of recompense. See it!