Grotesque (2009 film)
Japanese release poster
|Directed by||Kôji Shiraishi|
|Produced by||Kazue Udagawa
|Written by||Kôji Shiraishi|
|Music by||Kazuo Satô|
|Editing by||Tsuyoshi Sone|
|Studio||Ace Deuce Entertainment
|Distributed by||JollyRoger (Japan)
Media Blasters (US)
|Running time||73 minutes|
A young couple Aki and Kazuo are snatched off the street while having their first date as a romantic couple after a few years working in the same office, and wake up shackled in a basement, which has all its walls covered with plastic. With no further explanation, a sadistic madman degrades, tortures and mutilates them. Initially, he punctures Kazuo's belly with a screwdriver and slices his tongue, then rapes both, one at a time, forcing the other to watch. Sometimes he stops the torture to provide medical assistance and cure the couple's wounds, so they can continue alive for a long period of time. This way he cuts off all their fingers, makes collars with them, pops out Kazuo's right eye, removes the girl's nipples and cuts off her right arm. As the torture progresses, it is revealed he is simply doing it for sexual stimulation, and tells the couple he wants the two to survive. He finally castrates Kazuo, claiming he has found all the sexual relief he needs, so no longer needs the couple's "services". Then the couple is moved to a room which resembles a modern and clean hospital room, where the kidnapper takes care of the couple's wounds. While it is never explicitly mentioned on the movie, it becomes gradually apparent that the man has professional medical training, refined manners, taste for classical music and good wines and dressed with expensive clothes when he is not in surgeon dress torturing the couple. At some point he even mentions he is a wealthy man, which suggests he may be a reputable surgeon, not merely a violent sadist, looking for an extreme and different way to obtain satisfaction on his lonely life; however, the couple also notes the doctor has a particular rotting smell always present behind his clean and elegant appearance. After several days healing, the "doctor" simply tells the couple they will be free to go, he will turn himself to authorities and, as apology for all the suffering he inflicted to the couple, he will give them all his fortune which seems to be very large, as compensation. After all the horror, in a moment alone in the hospital room, Aki and Kazuo promises to support each other once they leave the place and become a formal couple. It is unclear if the madman changed his mind, or if playing with the couple's hopes to survive and being released soon was part of his mischievous plan from the beginning, but immediately after communicating to them they will be released, the next scene takes back the couple to the scary basement. After being drugged, they are shackled again, exactly as they were the first time. The "doctor" announces they must participate in one final test of love strength. He pulls out an extreme of Kazuo's intestines and attaches them to a hook. If Kazuo is able to cross the room to the other side (pulling off his entire intestines out of his body in the process), take a scissors and cut Aki's ropes to release her, both will be finally free. However, Kazuo fails due to blood loss and falls to the ground, agonizing (it is also revealed that the ropes restraining Aki have a metal wire running through them, rendering them impossible to cut with scissors; the task was therefore impossible). Aki begins to insult the doctor, telling him he is just the son of a whore that nobody cares about, and insists despite his refined manners and expensive clothes, he has an unusual and unbearable skunk odor, no matter how hard the tries to cover the stench. Angered, the doctor cuts off Aki's head in response and as her head falls down, it lands on the man's neck and bites him with her final breath. Kazuo on the floor, not dead yet, stabs him in the foot with the scissors as a supreme last action. The couple then dies facing each other. In the epilogue of the film, the madman is revealed to have survived what happened to him in the basement, although he cannot walk properly. He is in a quiet forest where he respectfully buries the couple next to each other in a traditional Japanese way, leaving the scissors on their tombs as a symbol. The next scene shows him back in the same car he used to kidnap the couple, covering himself with lots of perfume to hide his skunk stench while a girl is walking by, and the screen cuts to black as he goes after his next victim...
- Tsugumi Nagasawa as Aki
- Hiroaki Kawatsure as Kazuo
- Shigeo Ôsako as the unnamed doctor
The British Board of Film Classification has refused to issue an 18 certificate to the unrated version of the film, banning its release in the United Kingdom. BBFC director David Cook explained "Unlike other recent 'torture' themed horror works, such as the Saw and Hostel series, Grotesque features minimal narrative or character development and presents the audience with little more than an unrelenting and escalating scenario of humiliation, brutality and sadism. In spite of a vestigial attempt to 'explain' the killer's motivations at the very end of the film, the chief pleasure on offer is not related to understanding the motivations of any of the central characters. Rather, the chief pleasure on offer seems to be wallowing in the spectacle of sadism (including sexual sadism) for its own sake".
The film's director and screenwriter, Koji Shiraishi, responded that he was "delighted and flattered by this most expected reaction from the faraway country, since the film is an honest conscientious work, made sure to upset the so-called moralists."
The reception in Japan was initially less controversial, but after the notoriety of the UK ban, Amazon Japan decided to remove the DVD of Grotesque from its website. Incidentally, CDJapan, the international version of the Japanese retailer Neowing, does not sell the DVD since the controversy; although it is still readily available to Japanese residents via Neowing.
The film was released on DVD in Austria and the Netherlands on July 31. The DVD is a special edition limited to 1,000 copies. The DVD only contains German and Japanese language tracks and is only available in online stores related to the genre.
The Worldwide Celluloid wrote "This is the torture movie to end all torture movies as far as extreme sadistic violence is concerned, and I can't imagine a movie ever topping it" and "Well done, but do you really want to watch this?"  The website currently lists Grotesque as the tenth most disturbing film it has covered. 
The acting and the story were criticized by Film Bizarro, which also thought (unlike most other viewers) that the torture and gore scenes were restrained and sloppy, and that all in all the film "felt very forced in an attempt to be shocking". 
- "Grotesque! UK Bans 'Extreme Torture' Film". Sky News. August 19, 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-28.
- "BBFC rejects sexually violent Japanese horror DVD" (Press release). British Board of Film Classification. August 19, 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-03.
- "Japanese Horror Flick "Grotesque" Banned in Britain - What the Director Has to Say?". Gigazine. August 21, 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-28.
- "Bathed in Blood: Director Koji Shiraishi’s torture-porn flick Grotesque gets banned in Britain—and ignites a debate about Japan’s splatter-film boom". Metropolis Magazine. September 24, 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-28.
- Zev Toledano. "Extreme Sadism & Violence". Grotesque. The Worldwide Celluloid Massacre. Retrieved December 12, 2012.
- Zev Toledano. "Special Mention (Most Extreme Movies)". The Worldwide Celluloid Massacre. Retrieved December 12, 2012.
- Preston. "Grotesque". Grotesque. Film Bizarro. Retrieved December 12, 2012.