I came to a decision yesterday.
I am done with Eli Roth.
I will never watch another one of his movies.
This is not an April Fool's joke. I am very serious.
I realize that I am probably revealing my bias with these proclamations but in my own defense, and before anyone attacks my stance as being "ultra-conservative," question my commitment to cinema or doubt my identity as a movie-lover, I can freely admit that horror movies are not my favorite type of entertainment. Nevertheless, I'd like to think that I can appreciate a great film whatever it's genre may be. In fact, some of my favorite movies fit quite comfortably in the "horror" category (Psycho, Jaws, The Exorcist, Seven, Alien, etc). Nobody likes to think of themselves as being self-righteous, hypocritical or just generally "close-minded." In fact, I'd like to think I'm a pretty "open-minded" cinephile, always trying to find the redeeming value in something rather than just looking for things to criticize. When it comes to movies, I believe I'm pretty liberal with what I allow myself to see/not see (with regards to quality as well as content); much more so than a lot of people I know.
Furthermore, I am not, typically speaking, one who chooses easily to avoid (I could perhaps say "boycott," but I don't particularly want to as it is such a "loaded" term) certain films. Like Emperor Joseph II says in Amadeus: "I am a tolerant man. I do not censor things lightly. When I do, I have good reason." Understand, of course, that I am not talking here about censorship (except perhaps "self-censorship"). I am not saying that nobody should watch Eli Roth's movies nor am I trying to ensure that nobody can. I am speaking only for myself. I mention the Amadeus quote merely because the sentiment is the same: my decision is not based on a knee-jerk reaction to recently viewing a film of his (in fact, I've only seen one of his movies and that was a while ago). No, I arrived at my conclusion based on a combination of two things: The first I will get to in a minute. The second was something I read regarding what is contained within the trailer for the fake movie Thanksgiving he has made for the upcoming Tarantino/Rodriguez film Grindhouse. Although I am not a terribly big fan of Tarantino (Rodriguez a little bit more), I will admit that I've enjoyed most of his movies and am curious to see Grindhouse, but given what I've heard about what is contained within Roth's section of the film (and no, I am not going to go into any detail here; you want to find out what I'm talking about, you can do so elsewhere), I'm not sure I want to see it. I was already deciding to use the time that Rob Zombie's fake trailer comes on to take a bathroom break. When it gets to Eli Roth's four minutes of the film, I may choose that moment to get a refill on my popcorn.
The thing that most recently got me thinking that Roth was a filmmaker whose work I really have no more interest in, was a statement he made regarding violence in movies (which you can read about here at Cinematical). On the surface his idea may seem relatively innocuous, but in my mind they more or less confirm something that I've suspected ever since I BARELY made it through Hostel and listened to his comments on the commentary track. Eli Roth seems to be lacking something that I think is important for a great horror filmmaker (or any great filmmaker really) to have: some kind of inner moral compass that allows his films to have purpose or meaning outside of the mere desire to shock, titillate or disgust. I don't think he has this. I do not get the sense from him or his movies that he is a responsible filmmaker, that he ever asks himself whether or not he has "gone too far" in what he puts up on the screen. I find his ideas (and consequently his work) to be cynical, apathetic and nihilistic (which might perhaps explain why it appeals to so many young people since, as I would argue, these terms seem to describe the general direction our culture is taking) and I think his disregard for whatever consequences his films might have is at best discouraging and at worst frightening and dangerous.
This is all tied in with something about which I've been doing a great deal of thinking lately, and that it is the disturbingly increasing tendency toward sexual sado-masochism in the general culture (movies/TV/music) but particularly in the horror genre (an approach which has spawned its own "sub-genre" of horror films labeled by David Edelstein as "torture porn" and, in some circles, "gorno"). It may prove to be the subject of a future post or two here on Windmills. In the meantime, I'll simply say that, like his fellow "splat-packer" Rob Zombie, I have sworn off any more of Eli Roth's movies. Hostel 2 is coming out soon and will no doubt have hordes of young "gorno" fans flocking to the theatre to experience it (I hesitate to use the word "see" because I wonder exactly how much of the time their eyes will be directed at the screen). I can assure you that I will not be one of them. Unless Roth undergoes some sort of "religious conversion" tomorrow and suddenly decides to start making movies about sweet little girls and cute puppies (where the girls aren't raped and tortured and the puppies aren't dismembered and eaten), he can go his way and I will quietly go mine. Thank you very much.
Nothing personal. Have a nice life..... you sicko.*
*Sorry, couldn't resist.