Posted: 02/22/2007


Disturbing Images


by Janet Lee

The Story of Helmut K.

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Sean McKnight’s Disturbing Images is based on the controversial life and artistic vision of one director and photographer Helmut K., a man whom (despite research) may or may not be entirely fictional. Despite this, his story is intriguing albeit disgusting, a combination that guarantees some nausea while you’re being entertained.

Helmut K. begins his documentary with the theory that if human had more sex, there would be less violence. (“F*** like the monkeys!”) He maintains that God has put him here to bring this truth to the world through his art. Affirming from the get-go that he is entirely creepy and (quite possibly) crazy, the camera then interviews actors that worked with Helmut K. (pathetic and traumatized), protestors outside of his photography gallery (pathetic and brainwashed), professionals in the areas of psychology and human studies (just silly), and approximately half-way through the film, a couple of gay actors that had been seduced by Helmut’s “hypnotic” mood-therapy.

The protestors of his work, the brainwashed Christians, receive further shock when their Gabrielle-esque choirboy, Jonathan (Darin Martinez), appears in Helmut’s photography. The leader of this sect, Bryon Lloyd played by Gary Gustin, becomes obsessed with bringing back Jonathan to the church. After a shoddy kidnapping, Jonathan refuses to talk to his family and girlfriend (understandably) or the investigator (the only sane being in the movie). He manages to escape and returns to Helmut who had been prostrate with grief because he couldn’t have sex with Jonathan since his disappearance.

Realizing his failure, Bryon ends everything with curses and bullets, killing everyone in Helmut’s apartment, including the documentary’s camera-man (which is arguably the best part of the film) before killing himself.

The mockumentry is a genre that rarely evokes any other emotion besides humor. Disturbing Images was not a story of irreverence because of Helmut’s semi-disturbing images, but because both homosexuality and right-wing Christians receive a good bashing. The humor is as sick as it comes; no mean feat after Borat was set loose. This, mind, doesn’t excuse the horrendous acting.

Helmut K. was certainly a grimace-inducing character. His integration within a community that is reminiscent of Opus Dei however was poorly explained. The practices of the Christian cult were as equally appalling as Helmut’s lifestyle. Nice irony? Mmm… unsettling.

I give it points for creativity, but Sean McKnight’s purpose is not entirely clear and makes for a frustrating hour and a half.

The end result is cheese.

Watch this with your favorite cornball otherwise the experience is painful.

Janet Lee is a playwright in Manhattan, NY. You can read more of her works here.

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