I recently stumbled upon a list of the top ten most disturbing films in cinematic history. Concurrent with the bile in my mouth came the realization that we have a criteria for distinguishing which circumstance makes violence acceptable for the regular viewer. Violence can only be acceptable for us if it is happening to another person. In this case, it is that girl who is running around screaming her head off in a flimsy negligee that leaves very little to the imagination. Second criterion is that if the violence in the film warrants a certain degree of knowledge. You walk out of the cinema with a lump in your throat after having been fully immersed in the horrors of the human experiments carried out in a Nazi concentration camp. This is why horrific films make it to the Academy Awards, because you have become a tad wiser, a tad less ignorant and therefore a tad more cultured.
My fellowmen decided to showcase several films shown during the 62nd Cannes Film Festival for the celebration of our country's Independence Day. Notably absent from the glittering roster of films shown is our very own "Kinatay" from award winning director Brillante Mendoza. Quite the irony since the film fared extremely well in Cannes catapulting it's director to the Best Director Award. Truly, a majestic feat for the filipinos. Mendoza has stated he will only allow "Kinatay" to be premiered in the country in the condition that the film will be shown in all its uncensored glory. Alas, the director's entry to last year's Cannes Film Festival "Serbis" will be shown in lieu of "Kinatay".
Kinatay has failed to fit into any of the criteria for the acceptable unpalatable cinematic experience. As Tarantino has said, the film doesn't dramatize the crime. You watch the film not as a spectator, not as viewer waiting for the shock factor to kick in. In the film you are a witness, you are a participant in the poor woman's killing and subsequent mutilation. The poor woman is not the bossomy girl running for her life, the woman is a prostitute who has been sentenced to death by a drug pushing gang, the woman looks so typical you might have bumped into her on your way to work. In this case, hell is no longer another person's, it is your own. You leave the theater with the remnants of bile on your tongue. This movie did not make you a tad wiser and therefore a tad more cultured. This movie made you feel dirty, as if the hacked woman's entrails are stuck on the soles of your shoes and you cannot wash them off.
I scanned the list with much trepidation. It is eleven thirty in the evening and I am alone on my cluttered bed. The night is eerily silent and my thoughts are in a frenzied chaos. There is an accompanying video clip of every movie featured in the article. I find myself drawn to number six. The movie is called "Cutting Moments". It is a movie about a suburban wife who is desperate to win back the affections of her icy spouse. What do we have here? A demented woman stuck in a love triangle with her perverted husband who has begun to feel sexually attracted to their son. I click on the play button. Two minutes later the woman emerges from the bathroom in her skivvies, soaked in blood. She stands in front of her husband as he blankly stares at the TV. He looks at her puzzled, his brow furrowed in animosity. There she is dripping thick blood, her lips conspicuously missing from her face. I peer from my palm clasped firmly over my eyes. This is sick. Twisted. My stomach is tied in knots. Bile is rising in my throat. My hands are itchy. I feel dirty.