Posts Tagged ‘Torture Porn’

Picture the Loan

August 16, 2007

Money. Boy, it can be a bugger sometimes can’t it? There’s never enough to go around. There’s never enough to cover all the bills and still buy that new luxury car, family holiday and all the technological products that you desperately need to make your life fulfilling. Never mind. In years past people would have worked to afford their products or possibly gone without, having realised the sliding scale of income and outgoings have to at least partially balance.

Not any more though. Now you can have all the trappings of a materialistic lifestyle within days, with one easily arranged loan from any number of highly dubious, unregulated money shops. There’s Freedom Finance, Norton Finance, Intelligent Finance, Clearway Finance, Lombard Direct, Marble Loans, Loans.co.uk… there are now so many adverts for these fuckers on daytime television and across the board on cable that they’ve practically become a programming genre of their own.

The adverts are a mixed bunch. Some target those who’ve had bad luck in the past by using heavy-handed yet desperately amateur, metaphorical imagery (it’s raining on those in debt but the sun shines for those with a loan) while others bombard your senses with clip-art representations of desired material possessions. What binds them all though is that they are run by unscrupulous thick-necked bastards operating a bizarrely legal scam out of a shitty one-roomed office somewhere in a forgotten B-town in England. They’re not about helping you consolidate your debts, they’re about trying to get their mitts on your house when your financial guard is down.

Top of the pile for me is Picture Loans with an advert that simultaneously demonstrates the flippant and highly irresponsible approach they have to money management whilst treating their audience / potential customers like idiots. If we are to believe their advertising, they want people to make highly uninformed financial decisions on a whim, to willingly offer up their homes as collateral to afford a holiday and bind themselves to 25 year contracts with a company who think having ‘no paperwork’ for such a monumental decision is a virtue.

Just look at the advert above, or the second example that is at the end of this article, to see their dangerously casual approach to money. On both occasions the loan amount is decided in the moment, as if they were choosing the colour of new bathmat and the couples are so excited by the prospect of being given more money that they fail to realise they’re going to be paying back near double what they’ve borrowed.

“Yes” they all say “we’ve got a mortgage… and how much will that be a month?”

The casual indifference with which home ownership is presented is truly terrifying. It’s not a home, nor an investment, nor a nest-egg for your children – it’s a simple tradeable asset that you can cash in when your Ford Mondeo becomes more more than three years old. The couple in the advert below are actually filming themselves on a camcorder as they gleefully sign away the children’s inheritance, as if in years to come they can proudly pull out the projector and show the whole family exactly when they fucked up their futures.

The reason why these adverts are so wrong is simple; their key audience is the gullible, the stupid and the financially disastrous but they can’t put them on the telly as they’re unappealing. Instead they transpose the characteristics of the common moron onto the middle class, as if to say “hey, look, they’re just like you – or just like you want to be. If people with a nice house and abundant family can treat £25,000 as if it’s nothing then you can too.”

Picture Loans, and all those companies like them, are bastards. Quite how they can legally co-exist alongside the countless news reports and articles about the rising debt problem in this country is beyond me. They’re the equivalent of the dodgy man talking his way into your Grandma’s house before conning her out of her valuables… they target the desperate, the weak and the stupid and they do it under a pretence of wanting to help.

Then again, there’s always the argument that if you believe this shit in the first place you probably deserve everything that comes to you…

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Vacancy / Hostel Part 2

June 26, 2007

 

Does ‘torture porn’ exist? Not in mainstream cinema, if you ask me. The point of both of these recent horror movies is that you’re gunning for the victims to escape. And if there is any violence onscreen, it’s hardly protracted. Horror films work off the odd flash of a gruesome sight – the fundamental basis of the genre being the power of suggestion. Even Cannibal Holocaust, with castration and impalement on the agenda, don’t linger too long on the special effects. Ok, so it did linger on the native chick with the pole through her fanny for quite a while, but that was only because the special effect was so bloody good. And anyway, Cannibal Holocaust isn’t mainstream cinema.

Vacancy and Hostel Part 2 are two very different beasts that have been placed willy-nilly in the same ‘torture porn’ cage. ‘Torture porn’… it’s a complete misnomer. Granted, I haven’t yet seen Captivity which, from recent reviews, may well fit the tag, but I’ve recently had a gander at these two and any sadist hoping to have one off the wrist over the nastiness within will be sorely disappointed.

Understatement is key, and though many critics might lambast Hostel Part Two in particular for violence against women, it’s pretty liberal with its use of power tools and blades if you ask me. And what really surprised me is that, for the sequel, Eli Roth decided to use a plotline. In fact, two plotlines that meet in the middle. Which is a step forward from the first instalment which was an exercise in linear pedestrianism. Having said that, it doesn’t stray too far from the formula, meaning the teenagers who went to see Hostel One will get their shocks. Personally, I felt that I’d seen it before. The element of surprise – the hell the innocents were being taken to – was no longer unknown. It drained a massive part of the element of terror. The action sequences were slicker though and, most impressively, the dialogue didn’t sound like it’d been written by a frat boy with a hard on (which is essentially what Eli Roth is – and probably proud of it).

Vacancy is different to Hostel Part 2 and a world away from the visceral violence of the films it got lumped in with. In fact, it has more in common with stuff like The (original) Hitcher (except it’s much better) and also shares a bloodline with Spielberg’s Duel. It’s not even, to my mind, horror in the perceived sense. It’s a tense, taut thriller with little in the way of violence. It piles on the suspense and relies entirely on our sympathy for the main duo – and it got that sympathy from me. It’s a very old fashioned date movie that happens to have used the fear of starring in a snuff film as a very basic grounding for the shocks to float off.

Both are worth seeing, but if you’re a psychopathic misanthropist, don’t worry too much about getting the Kleenex out.