REVIEW: Stockholm Syndrome (2008): Reviewed by BRYAN SCHUESSLER
Excuse me…I was just clearing my throat. Have you ever had that taste in your mouth that is kind of chunky and hard, almost as if you had some left-over feta cheese crumbles in your mouth but they were a little bit harder and far denser…oh wait, that feeling in my mouth is BILE! I guess bile is the one word that I can use to describe Stockholm Syndrome (2008). But I am using bile to describe it because writer, producer, and director Ryan Cavalline managed to cram non-stop agony, humiliation, gore, misery, and pain all into one. It kinda felt like watching a low-budget version of Hostel and Saw rolled into one. It lacked the style and creativity (if you wanna call it that) of those films, but it was heavy on depicting scenes of misery and plain nastiness.
The film starts off with a married couple David (Jason Senior) and Anna (Lisa Marano) going to a doctor to find out what is wrong with their unborn child, traveling and stopping off at a cheap Motel 6-type flea-bag hotel after the long car ride. Two tough-looking thugs, Ty (Todd David Humes) and Geno (Eddie Benevich) just happen to be trolling the area looking for suitable victims to bring back to their employers for a slave-trade business that pays them for each person. Oh, did I mention the wife is pregnant? Yeah, the innocent couple were set up so nicely that one can immediately feel that some really awful things are going to be going down in the not-so-distant future. The ringleader of the two, Geno, had me cracking up with his “hard-ass dialogue”.
After forcing their way in to the motel room, the thugs beat-up the couple a bit, gag and tie them, and are thrown in the hoods’ car and taken to a run-down garage/warehouse. More thugs are hanging around and then we meet the boss, Mr. Pollino (Michael A. Migliore) whose performance was probably the best in the whole film. Shortly after, the sadism begins.
I will say that the director did a decent job on the blood and guts. They were plentiful and often. He managed to make me feel a little bit disgusted at how sick the “bad-guys” were, in an Olaf Ittenbach/Andreas Schnaas sort of way.
Just to whet your appetite, if this kind of film is your deal, we have a pregnant woman that is showed no mercy, a slave that has been trained to strip and perform oral sex on call, stand and be cut with a knife, and anything else one can think up of. A man of the clergy only known in the credits as “the Priest” (Todd Proesl) gets his rocks off by paying to sexually molest a woman with a “home-made” instrument that looks like an over-sized kitchen appliance with razors attached to it for cleansing the soul vaginally was probably the sickest scene in the whole film. The suggestion of what he wanted to do made me feel disgusted. But his dialogue and performance just may have been worth watching the whole film all in itself.
The film was shot on video but they had some interesting dialogue that made it at least tolerable to watch in-between the gore, blood, and torture. Some of the scenes between the hired help and torturers was really funny at times. I do not know if that was the director’s intent, but it made me chuckle now and then. I felt kind of slimy for having watched this film all the way through, a thin film of disgust clung to the couch that I was sitting on during my viewing. That is just how this film made me feel. I also was waiting for the gates of hell to open up from below and suck me in to live an eternity of redemption while serving the almighty underlord for watching such atrocities captured on film!
For an independent horror film in every sense of the word, this film delivers…almost too well. This is not Cavalline’s first film. He has made 8 other films, all shot on video, prior to Stockholm Syndrome (2008), including Serial Killer (2002), House of Carnage (2006), Day of the Ax (2007), Demon Slaughter (2008), and Aspiring Psychopath (2008). If anything, Cavalline sure came up with some killer movie titles. He also directed and wrote most of them and even starred in a couple of them.
I believe that Cavalline shows a lot of promise as a director and writer. Someday a studio may give him enough financial backing to be the next torture-porn director with that gory edge to his films. But right now, he is making his films his way and on his terms and probably with most of his own money, family, and friends. I admire him for that and I admire him for making one sick-ass film that took his brand of horror to the extreme and even made me wince once or twice in a scene or two. That does not happen often.
For more information on purchasing or just learning more about the films Cavalline has been working on, go to 4th Floor Pictures via this link.