Brutal Blu-ray Review

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Extreme Japanese Shocker From Unearthed Films

Cult horror label Unearthed Films has scoured the globe for the most underground, savage horror films and Brutal certainly fits the bill. Japanese filmmaker Takashi Hirose’s extremely violent movie is practically an exercise in pure torture porn. Actress Katrina Grey (Hard Target 2) makes a cameo appearance of sorts as the lone American victim.

In Brutal’s better moments, the viciously intense movie could have been made by famous Japanese director Takashi Miike. That’s not to say it’s a polished gem made for international audiences. This is a rough, undeveloped cult movie from Japan that relies far too heavily on shocking torture scenes and blood flowing everywhere. Despite the vaguely interesting premise of male and female serial killers finding each other, the storytelling feels like it’s missing something.

Brutal is for fans of daring arthouse and experimental cinema that goes well beyond the limits of mainstream consumption. This is a shocking movie made for the small niche audience that loves seeing torture and murder pushed to its most insane limits on screen. It’s designed on some level to provoke outrage with its insanely graphic and frighteningly realistic murders.

It’s designed on some level to provoke outrage with its insanely graphic and frighteningly realistic murders

The short Japanese horror movie clocks in at a little over one hour. There’s not much to the mostly dialogue-free narrative, except the screams of many victims and their pleadings for life. This material is not for the faint of heart or the squeamish. Young women are brutally beaten to death in graphic scenes that leave absolutely nothing to the imagination. You have been warned.

Brutal has some of the most visceral and extreme killing footage I’ve ever seen. This isn’t the cartoony physical violence of your usual, run-of-the-mill slasher flick. It’s in-your-face and utterly realistic in tone. Victims beg for their lives as the killer mercilessly knifes them to death. Female victims are repeatedly kicked and beaten. Brutal does allow little glimpses into each killer’s background.

The weird plot is really secondary in emotional impact after watching the killers work over their victims. Unearthed Films describes the simple but demented plot.:

A savage murderer is on the prowl in Japan. One by one, his victims fall but what is he searching for? The same thing a female killer is looking for. We are all looking for that special love of our lives and sometimes, we’re willing to kill everyone to find that special someone. This is the tale of two people finding each other in the most vicious way possible.

There’s some artistic merit to its crude but effective machinations. Brutal feels like a short film that got pushed into becoming a full-length feature. Brutal will be repulsive viewing for all but the most jaded and experienced horror fans. That being said, the movie is competently made and offers a uniquely degrading experience quite rare in horror. Takashi Hirose is a promising filmmaker for horror fanatics and one to keep an eye on in the future.

Video

Brutal runs a dreary 66 minutes with purposely degraded picture quality. The gritty aesthetic stems from digital video obviously doctored to emulate grindhouse-levels of filmic degradation. It is hard docking this Blu-ray’s presentation by Unearthed Films too much except to say this disc likely replicated the filmmaker’s intentions completely.

It’s pretty clear that Takashi Hirose and cinematographer Magnus Thors employ the standard palette and filming techniques commonly popular in Japanese horror, inspired by such films as Ringu.

The 2.35:1 presentation is shown at 1080P resolution. Decently encoded in AVC on a BD-25, compression is not an issue. Black levels are serviceable, even if some colors are more washed out than others. Detail and definition largely fall flat.

Audio

The lossless Japanese 2.0 PCM soundtrack has respectable fidelity. The thumping score has overpowering bass, if anything. This is serviceable audio with open dynamics and intelligible dialogue.

Optional English subtitles play in a yellow font, largely falling outside the widescreen presentation.

Extras

Distributed by MVD Visual, Unearthed Films has included a smattering of Japanese special features with no English subtitles.

Behind the Scenes (02:06 in HD) – A look at filming from the set in time-lapse form, with behind-the-scenes footage.

Nakigoto Music Video (05:13 in HD) – The three included music videos are for Japanese rap songs. No English subs are provided.

Brutal Music Video (03:30 in HD)

Blood Music Video (05:05 in HD)

Trailers (All in HD) – A series of trailers for other Unearthed Films’ releases.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray release was provided to us for review by the label. For information on how we handle all review material, please visit our about us page to learn more about DoBlu’s editorial policies.

Brutal
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras

Brutal

Japanese torture porn horror with several incredibly graphic and disturbing scenes is made strictly for brave fans looking for something far out of the ordinary.

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