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Taxidermia (2006)

From time to time I get that uncontrollable urge to push the boundaries of what my limitations are as a horror fan. When I get this rare moment of curiosity I tend to turn to Google to seek out the top 'most disturbing' horror movies and see which entry in these lists tends to grab my attention the most. Taxidermia is one that I have seen show up multiple times and the cover alone always strikes me as intriguing. The question is, does this film belong on those lists or is it just another over hyped indie low budget production?

This Hungarian body horror odyssey is filmed in an almost anthology style format, as we follow the events spanning three generations of men. Each generation explores one of the 7 deadly sins, focusing on lust, gluttony and pride. The first tells the tale of a sexual deviant, followed by a champion speed eater and finally a man obsessed with embalming. All are equally just a disturbed and boundary pushing as the first. As interesting as I found the overall idea that this is a family that seems to be plagued by curse, I just couldn't help but feel that by time we reached the conclusion of the final segment, the limited resolution to the gruelingly 90 minute runtime left me feeling rather underwhelmed.

The explicit images we see throughout range from graphic violence, extreme sexual depravity and the outright grotesque. Some of this stuff is a lot more tolerable than others, but I think that is personally down to the viewer to determine where they consider to draw the line. Not only is the visual content truly vile but the language used throughout is revolting. The first segment is the one I found to be the most uncomfortable for this. The constant use of the word cunt within a 25 minute period is more than unnecessary and I feel this was likely here for shock value and nothing less.

There's some clever use of practical and make up effects here, I would say more so in the final segment. In this segment the last son of the bloodline Balatony played by Marc Bischoff (the taxidermist) builds a contraption that enables him to preserve himself in a Venus De Milo style pose like a product of his work, before his ultimate suicidal death. This is genuinely as bizarre as it sounds. However, the practical work that goes into creating this scenes and the build up to it looks incredible. This film clearly has a very intelligent and creative team behind it. I will say though, that I can only assume that due to the realistic nature of these scenes that animal (mostly likely pig) flesh and organs were used during the creation process - something to bare in mind if these are element that cause distress.

For all that the film itself is a difficult watch, the juxtaposition of content to cinematography, and use of innovative camera work makes it hard not to highlight how well produced this production is. Scene after scene we are watching horrific and uncomfortable moments play out on screen, yet these moments are always filmed is such a beautiful way that to not give praise to director György Pálfi would be an insult to his talent as an artist. This is not a film I would ever consider watching again, nor would I recommend anyone else to watch it either. Overall, I feel like this film delivers effective shock value, but has very little substance to it that doesn't warrant the overall praise surrounding it. However, if you have a strong stomach, and the artistic and creative side of cinema is something you crave as a viewer, then this film may be for you.



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