Society - 1989
Director(s): Brian Yuzna
Writer(s): Rick Fry and Woody Keith
Cinematography by: Rick Fichter
Editor(s): Peter Teschner
Cast: Billy Warlock, Devin DeVasquez, Evan Richards, Ben Meyerson, Charles Lucia and Patrice Jennings
I have watched a lot of movies, just on this site alone I've rambled about 428 of them, and that is the ones I muster up the energy to scribble about. And after a while, you start to see things coming from a mile away, especially if a film is not subtle with its structure, story or themes. So when a film surprises me, it is a breath of fresh air, and it makes me sit up straight and stare at the screen absorbing everything that is happening. Unfortunately for me, Society did surprise me, and I drank in all the weird gore, sex, and violence that explodes on to the screen during that third act, leaving me to say multiple times; "What the hell am I watching?" Come along as I try to explain what I just watched.
The story follows Bill Whitney (Billy Warlock), a senior in high-school. He comes from a wealthy family, is dating a cheerleader and is running for class president. On the surface he has everything, but Bill is going to a therapist because he has been seeing things that don't add up and suspects that his mom, dad, and sister are murderers. The therapist tries to convince him that it is all in his mind, but events in his life do not add up, and his suspicions start to mount after finding a dead body that mysteriously disappears when he brings the cops to the site of the murder. All of this culminates at a party of the wealthy members of town - in what can only be described as an orgy of sex, blood, and gore.
Look this film is trying, and in some cases succeeding, to be a lot of things at once, but all aimed at satirizing the elite 1% in our society. It is going for a comedic tone to undercut the sheer amount of gore, and weird sexual fantasies explored on screen, that I don't know if I laughed because of the absurdity of it all or if it was funny. The story at first plays with the idea of maybe it is all in his head, and quickly abandons it since the therapist is part of the grand scheme. I guess my biggest complaint, in terms of the story, is that I am not sure why he was being raised within the family - since they are more than happy to eat anyone and anything - Bill holds no special meaning outside of him being "groomed" for this ritual. Sure, the excess of the film can be a commentary on the excess lives the rich have. Sure, the way the violently consume the poor is a commentary on how they utilize and abuse the poor to get and maintain their lifestyle. You can comment on it but It does not mean that the film itself should not have shown some restraint.
While I did not love the acting (ranges from over the top to entirely wooden), tone or structure of the film - I am completely onboard with the practical effects utilized. They are creative, visually compelling and effectively disturbing. They somehow feel grounded in the reality of the world they have created, even it goes from a man ramming his entire arm through a man's body to a man's face is in between his ass-cheeks. This film is not for everyone, including me, but it is impossible to walk away from it not being impressed by the practical effects. Give it a shot if anything I mentioned piqued your interest.
Society is a Streamer!
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