Chaos Is Come Again
“Chaos,” derived from the Greek for “abyss,” was a primordial shapeless mass which gave birth to Night and death’s home of Erebus, where two siblings mysteriously produced Love, which in turn brought forth Light and, finally, order and “Earth, the beautiful.” Although utter confusion, unpredictability or a state in which pure chance reigns supreme are current definitions dating from the fifteenth century, there is nothing either untidy or unexpected about David DeFalco’s Chaos, titled after its ghastly protagonist (Kevin Gage).
With unity of place in California hill country and what approximates unity of time and, despite intimations of a chilling past, a clear classical beginning, middle and very sharp-cut end, the film purports to depict what network and local news reports but dares not show. Disingenuously believing himself “somehow chosen to channel the forces of darkness onto celluloid” in this simple story he also wrote, the director claims the didactic purpose of presenting mistakes to avoid, thus saving lives.
No doubt at all that the result is firmly among the most graphically violent, bloody movies yet made. Beyond publicity insinuations about natural deaths and non-coincidental murders, madness, suicides, lawsuits, psychological traumas, hard drugs and one “soft” bust -- with two others, Gage was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years of prison and probation, for medical marijuana, in San Francisco -- the filmmaker would place this work in the tradition of Straw Dogs, The Virgin Spring and, based on that brooding Bergman, Last House on the Left, along with Rosemary’s Baby and the overrated The Exorcist and Poltergeist.
Decidedly more relevant, however, but as marked contrasts, would be Michael Powell’s career-destroying Peeping Tom, the somewhat similar Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (now being released as a two-disc DVD set), and influential The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Less violent than their cult reputations, all three are skillful inducements of sweaty claustrophobia and, tellingly, play mind-games with audiences. Lacking any trace of subtlety, Chaos will appeal -- with arguably dangerous consequences -- to what singer-songwriter Robbie Fulks terms the “moron market.”
Granted, the unvarnished story is, unfortunately, culled from the news and could be any one of thousands. A tarty young Sadie/”Daisy” (Kelly K.C. Quann) is used as hitchhiking bait for randy motorists, who are savaged and robbed by her two accomplices, unbalanced long-haired Frankie (Stephen Wozniak) and amoral head-shaven leader Chaos. Previous carnage hinted at, the area should get hot for them, so they’ll head to L.A., abandoning Chaos’ chubby browbeaten son Swan (Sylvester Stallone’s son Sage). The twenty-year-old is inept by his father’s standards but at that moment, however, with a promise of “scoring E [ecstasy],” is luring two young women back to the elder threesome’s scruffy cabin.
Returned from UCLA with tales of sexy city men and designer drugs, Angelica (Chantal DeGroat) literally and figuratively crosses a bridge with envious friend Emily Ross (Maya Barovich) in seeking excitement back here in the sticks. (WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD.) No nuance, no exploration, no buildup or suspense. The teens are overpowered, beaten, raped, sodomized, cut apart, cannibalized and, after a brief solo escape, killed, not necessarily in that order but in ghoulish detail. Emily’s African-American mother Justine is “a little strict” protective worrywart initially reassured by Caucasian husband Leo, but soon the two parents conduct a search, find what they don’t want to find, then frantically notify local police.
The head cop is a stone racist in denial and therefore slow to take action. But evidence mounts, and he and an assistant rush to the Ross’ mountain A-frame, onto which the fleeing psychopaths have already stumbled. “L-O-V-E” and “H-A-T-E” tattooed on his knuckles, Robert Mitchum’s Preacher did allegorical battle with Lillian Gish for the souls of two innocent children in Night of the Hunter. With the same tattoos, Chaos the character is repugnant, not menacing, while Chaos the movie has neither style, struggle nor substance.
(Released by Dominion Entertainment; not rated by MPAA.)