Eli Roth, in his influential 2005 horror downer Hostel, made what appears to have been a bid for consideration as a serious artist by inserting one or two references to Franz Kafka.  Twenty-five references to Kafka would not, however, have changed the fact that Hostel was simply torture porn – a film trading not in suspense but rather in fetishistic sadism and fascination with the meat potential of human bodies.  Now comes first-time director Taylor Sheridan’s Vile, 897th bastard son of Hostel, which, like its pappy, has a pun for a title and, again like its pappy, makes reference to a serious thinker by featuring a Gandhi quotation as an epigraph: “The root of violence is science without humanity.”  A better motto for Vile would be, “The root of tedium is filmmaking without humanity”, as that, ultimately, is why Vile is so irritating and so disposable.

After a group of dirty, unsavory twenty-or-thirtysomethings is fumigated and kidnapped by an Avon lady in a gas mask, they awaken to find themselves sealed into a house with strangers.  An ugly woman on a monitor (who identifies the house as hers) informs them that they will be unable to leave until the tubes connected to their brains have been filled with chemicals that can be made into drugs.  These chemicals, unfortunately, are produced only under extreme duress.  “Pain will be your only way out of this house,” she says.  It is then up to the group to decide how they will go about dividing the torture amongst themselves before their time has run out.  What follows is more than an hour of people arguing, moaning, screaming, beating, and mutilating each other as shaky cameras record it all in gruesome and uninteresting detail.  Dimly lit and painted with a sickly, bilious palette, Vile is a difficult film to watch and an impossible one to enjoy for anyone not a certifiable sadist.

1.5 of 5 possible stars.

[WARNING: SPOILERS]

Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Vile is:

10. Anti-redneck.  From the moment the group stops at a rural gas station with an out-of-order pump and country music playing, the viewer is aware that the protagonists  have left the comforts of civilization behind and have taken the Highway to the Danger Zone.  A banjo is heard later in the film, having apparently been deemed the appropriate musical accompaniment to the subject matter.

9. Feminist/anti-family.  The setting is an apparently ordinary house, with the appurtenances of conventional domesticity – an iron, a fork, a grater, and a pot of boiling water – becoming in this context the instruments of torture.

8. Egalitarian.  Suffering is to be shared equally.  The man who says, “I am not splitting shit with any of you” is the first to die.

7. Anti-business/anti-capitalist.  Vile‘s representative entrepreneurs are drug dealers willing to maim and murder to manufacture their product.  Promotion of products  with free samples, as of perfume, is a ruse to lure people to certain doom.

6. Un-p.c./diversity-skeptical.  The group seems eager to attack the black guy before anyone else.  Asian bitch Kelly (Stefanie Barboza) is dubbed “Pineapple”.  “Shouldn’t you men take a little extra responsibility?” one woman asks.  The black guy, Greg (Rob Kirkland) objects to such “feminist crap.”  Salt conspicuously labeled “kosher” is rubbed into an open wound during the opening credits.

5. Pro-slut/pro-miscegenation.  Vile opens with a group of tattooed, sloppy, probably Obama-backing Occupy-type wastrels filthily lounging in grass like a pack of smelly dogs.  Pregnant bimbo Tayler (April Matson) says, “I’m gonna get tatted up all over.  It’s gonna be sexy.”

4. Multiculturalist.  Tayler wants a tattoo of Japanese waves.  Sam (Greg Cipes) has a tattoo in Hindi.

3. Anti-democratic.  The democratic process takes the form of incessant arguing with accompanying emergence of interest groups.  The character who suggests that the group’s strategy should be determined by equal votes is, as it turns out, a psychopath and in league with the drug farmers.

2. Anti-drug.  Users and dealers in drugs (and other products, presumably) are often unaware of the human suffering resulting from the satisfaction of their demand.  “People will pay anything.  They don’t care where it comes from.”  “I just sold the stuff,” says Greg, who claims not to have known how the drugs were made.  Whites thus turn blacks into criminals and unwitting murderers through the drug trade.  Greg also takes painkillers after his torture, indicating that blacks turn to narcotics only to relieve the distress and abuse they receive at the hands of oppressive whites.  Pills, however, only lengthen the ordeal of one of the victims in the film.

1. Nihilist/anti-human.  Sadism = survival.

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