18 April 2014 | Coventry
Disappointment of the century...
Each year I loyally attend as much screenings and international premieres at the Brussels Festival of Fantastic Films as possible. Each year there are pleasant surprises as well painful misfires, of course, and each year there is also one – and usually just one only – film that becomes my absolute must-see priority! For the 2014 edition, this simply couldn't have been any other film than "The Profane Exhibit". The seemingly dark and ultimately sinister anthology effort assembles no less than a dozen of the most eccentrically & controversially talented directors of the horror genre from the past, present and future. Just look at the names! And if the names don't immediately ring any bells, click on their names and browse through their repertoires. As a die-hard fan of extreme and worldwide horror, I appreciate the work of all directors involved, but I was particularly looking forward to the contributions of Ruggero Deodato, Sergio Stivaletti and Marian Dora. Deodato is the founding father of Italian cannibal movies, and thus a genuine horror deity. Stivaletti is the genius special effects wizard of practically all the greatest Italian directors, but he also directed two terrific movies himself already. And Marian Dora is mostly known for the extremely sick and grueling "Cannibal"; an uncompromising re-working of a true German crime case. The other names were more than fascinating as well, including Richard Stanley ("Hardware"), José Marins (the notorious "Coffin Joe" movies) and Nacho Vigalondo ("Time Crimes"). The only two that I personally don't admire very much are Uwe Boll and Ryan Nicholson, but considering their brute and unhinged filming styles they also definitely belong in this project. In short, "The Profane Exhibit" looks like every horror fanatic's dream come true, even more so than "The ABC's of Death" or "Masters of Horror".
But alas, alas
"The Profane Exhibit" unexpectedly turned out to be the biggest and saddest disappointment in many years, and to be quite honest, I still haven't fully recovered from how bad it actually is, even though it has been 3 days since my viewing now. It's fairly simple to see what went totally wrong here, in fact. The whole film, the entire project, is utterly soulless. None of the directors (except maybe for Uwe Boll) used even 10% of their skills and talents, and probably just considered their short stories as an annoying side activity. The different chapters, approximately ten minutes each, are gory and depraved for sure, but they completely lack content, atmosphere, coherence, suspense and even proper common sense. In case you're exclusively looking for brainless bloodshed and perversity, you might still enjoy "The Profane Exhibit", but if you expect a minimum of structure and/or quality story-telling, you will feel cheated. For what concerns the directors I looked forward to, I can be very brief and bitter. Ruggero Deodato's segment isn't worth mentioning, Marian Dora's tale was downright incomprehensible and Sergio Stivaletti's chapter was watchable but weak. With the exception of Nacho Vigalondo's contribution, which is mediocre at best, I can't even bother to mention the remaining short stories. As much as it hurts, I wish to prevent fellow genre fanatics from watching this embarrassing trash, or at least forewarn them not to expect too much.