by Jason Coffman
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If you’re ever in a really good mood that you feel like wrecking, you may want to pop Wound into your DVD player. In a mere 77 minutes, your cheer will have turned to misery while you wonder what the hell you just watched, and why you watched it. And why anyone would have made it. And why anyone else would release it. The short version is: Wound is the sort of surreal low-budget horror film that happens when someone is a huge David Lynch fan but somehow completely misunderstands what actually makes David Lynch films work. So while Wound is certainly not short on bizarre, unsettling imagery, none of it feels like it adds up to much of anything.
Wound runs on two parallel story lines. In the first, Susan (Kate O’Rourke) is a shut-in telemarketer, living in the home where she grew up with her parents and still sleeping in the same bed she had as a child. Her father returns from abroad and Susan bashes him over the head with a baseball bat. The audience can assume that their relationship is probably not that great, a suspicion that is verified when Susan puts on a creepy mask and ritually murders him. This may sound like a spoiler, but all this happens in the first five minutes of the film. After this, it gets weird, with Susan making phone calls to dead people and engaging in elaborate submission/domination games with Master John (Campbell Cooley), a character whose nature and exact relationship to Susan is never explained.
In the second story, a troubled young girl named Tanya (Te Kaea Beri) is confronted by her high school guidance counselor about her relationship with her boyfriend Mark (Matt Easterbrook) before being informed that her biological mother has been found. Tanya appears to be having some sort of troubles with Mark, who is only seen in dreamy flashbacks (or fantasy sequences?), and the discovery of her birth mother seems to traumatize her. While she tries to decide what to do with this information, she and a friend visit an underground S&M club where a massive, thoroughly tattooed man in a pig mask rapes her on the bathroom floor. Following this, Tanya heads out to confront her biological mother, who unsurprisingly turns out to be Susan.
Once Susan and Tanya meet, any semblance of coherent plot that Wound had completely disintegrates, and the film turns into a series of increasingly bizarre and grotesque scenes that feel more like writer/director David Blyth had a notebook of gross stuff he wanted to put in a movie than any continuation of the film’s already near-impenetrable narrative. When the film reaches its conclusion, it’s tough to really care much about what’s going on since there are no people in the film who act like human beings at all, so there’s no real way to gauge what is supposed to be “actually” happening in the action of the film and what may be delusion or hallucination. It is also difficult to decide whether the fact that Blyth gives a pretty clear indication at the end of the film of why things get so crazy after Susan and Tanya meet is a cop-out or a small nod toward acknowledging most audiences would be utterly lost by that point.
Perhaps the main problem with Wound is not that it borrows liberally from surreal and transgressive horror films in general, but that it seems largely inspired by David Lynch’s Inland Empire specifically. Blyth even lifts the recurring motif of the train horn blowing on the film’s soundtrack, and coupled with the film’s symbol system (recurring masks, animal heads, characters appearing in different places they could not be, etc.) and the fact that lead actress Kate O’Rourke spends much of her screen time in terror and agony, it’s not too hard to imagine Blyth seeing Inland Empire and determining that he could greatly improve it by cutting its length by two-thirds and adding in some pig mask rape and a scene where one character’s penis is graphically scissored off. If that was indeed the case, he was definitely wrong. Instead of being mysterious and compelling, Wound just comes off as pretentious and gross, ugliness for its own sake.
Breaking Glass Pictures and Vicious Circle Films release Wound on DVD on 6 March 2012. Special features include the film’s trailer, a video by Damn Laser Vampires, and “Circadian Rhythms,” writer/director Dan Blyth’s first short film from 1976.
Jason Coffman is a film writer living in Chicago. He writes reviews for Film Monthly and is a regular contributor to Fine Print Magazine (www.fineprintmag.net).
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