• Brutal (Unearthed Films) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Unearthed Films
    Released on: December 11th, 2018.
    Director: Takashi Hirose
    Cast: Butch, Ayano, Takashi Nishina, Katrina Grey, Naho Nakashima
    Year: 2017
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    Brutal – Movie Review:

    Takashi Hirose’s 2017 picture Brutal is divided into two chapters. The first chapter, Man, is about… a man (played by Butch). He’s not a nice man either, in fact, he’s a psychopath with a habit of abducting women, bringing them back to his place and torturing them, often times stabbing them in the crotch. There’s a lot of crotch stabbing in this movie – get used to it. As he goes about his nasty business, he talks to his victims, complaining about how no one understands him. This doesn’t really allow us to sympathize with him – it’s hard to sympathize with someone as the stab crotches repeatedly – but it does at least put us into his head space a bit. Towards the end of this chapter, he cuts off one of his victim’s heads and has a reasonably lengthy conversation with it. He is not well.

    From there, we segue into the second chapter which is entitled Woman. This is about… a woman (played by the strikingly beautiful Ayano Oami). She’s not a nice woman either, in fact she’s a psychopath with a habit of abducting men, bringing them back to her place and torturing them, often times stabbing them in the crotch. Are you noticing some similarities here?

    Eventually our two characters meet while eating apples. It’s an odd way for a film to bring two people together, but in the absurdist, over-the-top world that the director is thrusting us into, it works. They hit it off in their own strange way, going back to his place and learning that they have a lot more in common than just a penchant for crotch stabbing.

    Brutal starts off as a fairly standard low budget gore film, light on plot or original ideas but high on attempts at shock value. The visuals are often nearly ruined by Takashi Hirose’s attempts to give the movie a ‘grindhouse look’ by digitally overlaying print damage, flicker and heavy fake grain (there’s no hiding the fact that this was shot on digital video, so why try? It never works…). It’s distracting, never complementing the feature but instead proving to be little more than an annoyance. That said, if you’re willing to stick with this – and at sixty-seven-minutes in length it shouldn’t be that hard – the movie does get pretty interesting towards the end. There isn’t a whole lot of tension in the first two acts, just a lot of gore (and crotch stabbing) but these segments do serve to setup the two main characters. It isn’t until they actually meet up that the film switches into high gear – we won’t ruin the way that all of this plays out but the film really does manage to pull the rug out from under us before it’s all over and done with.

    Production values are okay. The movie was clearly made without a huge budget but the gore effects are generally well done and the score is quite effective. The cinematography is well done and, irritating fake print damage aside, this is a good-looking movie in that as ugly as its subject matter might be, it’s put together well.

    The performances are also pretty solid. Butch definitely commits to his role. He’s completely into it and his portrayal of his character is convincingly crazy. Ayano Oami is every bit his equal, even better at some points in the picture, and once they meet, it’s a kick to see them do what they do. She’s a very striking looking woman with a strong screen presence and she definitely brings an impressive level of intensity to her work here.

    So yeah, this one does take a bit of time to hit a proper stride but once it does, it’s surprisingly twisted and morbidly funny, turning from a standard atrocity exhibition into a cinematic freakshow that you won’t soon forget.

    Brutal – Blu-ray Review:

    Unearthed Films brings Brutal to Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 2.35.1 widescreen on a 25GB disc. Generally speaking the quality of the transfer is just fine. As mentioned above, the fake grain and print damage is part of the intended look of the film so you can’t hold that against the image quality. Detail is pretty decent here, close up shots being the most impressive, and colors are nicely reproduced. We get good black levels too and the image is free of any noticeable compression issues.

    The only audio option for the feature is a Japanese language LPCM 2.0 stereo track. Optional subtitles are provided in English only. Audio quality is fine. Levels are properly balanced and the track is free of any hiss or distortion. The score sounds decent, as do the sound effects.

    Extras are slim, limited to a brief two-minute behind the scenes featurette, a trio of music videos, trailers for other Unearthed Films releases, menus and chapter selection.

    Brutal – The Final Word:

    Fans of extreme cinema may find Brutal uninspired for the first half of its running time, but those willing to stick with it should be impressed with the movie’s completely gonzo ending, a finale that’s strong enough to make this movie worth seeing. Unearthed Films’ Blu-ray is light on extras but it looks and sounds pretty good – recommended, for those with a strong stomach and a taste for absurdist gore films!

    Click on the images below for full sized Brutal Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Maureen Champ's Avatar
      Maureen Champ -
      Once I wrote comment on how Unearthed Films were going to release films of 2012 like Red Krokodile and asked about Michael Patrick Stevens' Brutal, but not this picture. Such as sad coincidence for me.