Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with Capone's take on a nifty sounding genre film. Usually I wouldn't even consider seeing a horror film if I heard the following: "cautionary tale of two college girls who go to a rave in the woods" however Capone's got me convinced that this one is worth a look, especially with the comparison to LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT. Also, having Sage Stallone in it is almost a stamp of approval... that man knows his horror after sinking all his DAYLIGHT money into restoring and re-releasing Fulci classic THE BEYOND. He's earned some respect in my book. Here's Capone with the nitty-gritty as they say! Enjoy!
Hey, everyone. Capone in Chicago here, with a review that is both an endorsement and a strong cautionary warning. I first heard about Chaos when the organizer of the Chicago-area horror convention/drive-in event Flashback Weekend told me he’d booked the film for a special screening at this year’s event (Plug: July 29-31 at the Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare, www.flashbackweekend.com : End Plug—more from me on this event in the coming weeks). Not actually having seen it, he said he’d heard it was incredibly controversial, brutally violent, and had caused quite a stir at every screening to date. Naturally, I assumed this was all hype. Now I’ve seen the film, and I promise you it’s not. Chaos is a well-crafted horror film, in which the only “monsters” are some truly sick fucking human beings, beginning and ending with director and co-writer David DeFalco.
An unofficial but barely veiled remake of Last House on the Left, Chaos is about brutality without the theatrics (as compared to something like House of 1,000 Corpses, which is almost entirely theatrics). The film is not wall-to-wall killing or raping, but those are certainly some of the sadistic elements to this cautionary tale of two college girls who go to a rave in the woods, go off the beaten bath to score some ecstasy, and are taken captive by four of the nastiest motherfuckers on the planet. Chaos is the worst nightmare you’ve ever had; what is inflicted upon these women is degrading, humiliating, and terrible on every level. And to give you any more details about the plot than that would be doing the highly effective film a disservice.
As much as the bad guys in this film (led by Kevin Gage’s terrifying character named Chaos) seem to revel in their depravity, I don’t get the sense that DeFalco is celebrating their behavior. If anything, he’s shot this film in a very neutral fashion, neither celebrating moments when it appears the women might escape, nor dwelling on the evil deeds of the captors. Perhaps the biggest surprise about Chaos is the acting. It’s pretty good, particularly the performances of the two girls (Maya Barovich and Chantal Degroat), whose fear and pain seems all too genuine. Another shocker is the appearance of Sage Stallone (Sylvester’s son) in one of the villainous roles as Swan. I didn’t realize he was in the film until the end credits, but since he’s one of the founders of Grindhouse Releasing (which restores and preserves exploitation films), I guess I shouldn’t be that surprised he’s in this.
The suspense and violence of Chaos builds slowly over its barely 70-minute running time. For the first 15 minutes, I thought this was going to be another violence-tease film where the bad guys would jump up and down waving knives and screaming “Ooga Booga” for most of the film without doing much killing. I almost regret being wrong. Although I’ve seen far more graphic killings in even mainstream films, the murders in Chaos are so painful and difficult to watch. I wasn’t a big fan of the scenes involving one of the girl’s parents, who sit at home worrying about their daughter missing curfew, but their little cabin in the woods serves as the setting for the film’s bloody climax, so that makes it easy to forgive these otherwise boring characters.
The primary reason that I’m ultimately recommending Chaos is that it delivers exactly what it promises: grindhouse cinema in its purest and most ugly form. A few scenes here repulsed me, and I’m pretty sure that was the intention. A title card at the film’s opening almost convinced me that this movie is meant as an educational tool to teach pretty young women not to walk in the woods alone. On a certain level, that’s exactly what Chaos is. DeFalco has created his monster, grabbing pieces from other films on this subject and surgically removing the best bits. If you consider yourself someone who can watch just about anything on screen, you’re about to be tested by a vile little creature called Chaos.