Director – Joe Lujan (Rust, The Immortal Wars)
Starring – Corey Taylor (Rust, White Trash Smash), Brittany Enos (Last Day of School, Rust 2), and Taylor Kilgore (Rust, The Immortal Wars)
Release Date – 2015
Rating – 3/5
Tagline – “Beauty has a price”
The last few days I set my sights on two indie horror films from director Joe Lujan. The first was his horror short Rust followed by the sequel Rust 2, stylized as Ru2t. The first film in the series was a bit of a let down and I found myself becoming severely bored with it. I had little hopes for the sequel but found myself really enjoying it. I don’t see myself tossing it in any time soon but I definitely enjoyed it. When Joe sent me these two films on blu to review he also sent over two other films to check out. I was riding the high of Rust 2 and decided to hurry onto his next film. The next one on the chopping block is his 2015 horror film Atelophobia.
**Spoiler Alert**The film follows a group of mean spirited pageant contestants who are often belittling and degrading a young woman who wants nothing more than to fit in. After suffering years of abuse she snaps and abducts these beautiful yet evil women to torture and disfigure. Robbing them of the thing they love most…their beauty. **Spoiler Alert**
I was looking forward to viewing this film but I did have some doubts. First off, I had to look up Atelophobia because I had no idea what the fuck it meant. The other reason I had doubts was because it centered around a group of pageant contestants. I was almost certain that the characters and scenario would turn me off but I actually really enjoyed what Lujan delivered.
The acting in this one starts out a little mediocre before we really get into the solid performances. The snobby beautiful women really get under your skin which is a true testament to their performance. They were written to hate and they do a tremendous job at pulling that emotion out of the viewer. They then switch it up and turn from bitch to helpless victim delivering yet another solid performance. The captors and their leader, Meredith I believe her name was, are a little on the cheesy side. They look and act like characters in a late 90s industrial music video which does take the tone away from the movie somewhat. The dark and gritty look of the torture scenes do receive a few unintentional laughs as a result.
The story for this one works for what it is and the title, though not that appealing, perfectly fits the film. Some people, like myself, will see the title Atelophobia and skip on it because they do not know what that means prior to viewing. However, if you look beyond the title you will find a very grounded torture flick that is a little more than torture porn. It has some slight social commentary and solid pacing which works. Normal torture porn turns me off to a horror film but this one works with the characters you start out hating.
Finally, the film has some impressive practical effects that fit the them of the film. We watch several beautiful woman as they are disfigured. The effects work and they stick with you long after you turn the film off. Overall, Atelophobia is a surprisingly hard hitting film. Some people will look at the artwork and title for this one and look over it but I highly recommend checking this one out. You may be surprised as well.