August Underground

August Underground is a vile piece of film-making with very few redeeming features. It has virtually no plot and is simply a montage of disgusting, violent, depraved and sexually explicit murders.

The film is in the “found footage” style, and as such has the feel of a home movie in the way it is shot. The viewer is exposed to the rampage of two young serial killers as they rape and murder for the sheer enjoyment of it. That is as far as this film goes with storyline, and the killers laughing at their victims as they degrade and brutalise them makes it all the more uncomfortable.

Watching August Underground leaves one feeling sick to the stomach, it is harrowing beyond belief and herein lies why this film is to be intensely disliked but also, perversely, why it demands some degree of praise.

There is nothing to recommend August Underground for as a viewing experience unless it is simply used as yardstick for personal endurance. It is curiosity that will cause most people to seek out this tawdry film, and all but the most hardened extreme cinema fans are at risk of becoming the proverbial cat.

However, there are two areas where the film should be commended. The first is the physical special effects. For the budget this must have been shot on, the gore is extremely realistic – shockingly so. It is a master class of old school latex work – it’s hard not to admire it even whilst it is having you reach for the “off” button. No doubt the handheld camera style aided what the effects team could get away with, but despite that it is still very impressive.

Secondly, for all the criticism that can be easily levelled at August Underground, it should be acknowledged that this film shows murderers and serial killers as despicable, hideous and totally offensive characters. From the first few minutes, there is real hatred generated for the perpetrators of the crimes we witness. These are not suave and cool individuals looking for “a nice Chianti” – but vile pieces of human waste that need locking up. Whatever objections are thrown at August Underground, most of them valid, it cannot be accused of glamourising violence.

There are two sequels to August Underground (Mordum and Penance) neither of which seem like compelling viewing after seeing this movie. The graphic portrayal of extreme events and situations can be thrilling when wrapped around the bones of a plot and developed characters, neither of which August Underground has. For this reason it left this reviewer cold and not wanting to repeat the experience, despite a begrudging respect for its guerrilla film-making and boundary pushing. If, however, you wish to test your mettle against some truly vicious and depraved images – you should probably experience this film for yourself.

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2 Responses to “August Underground”

  1. I watched this and the rest of the August Underground trilogy and found them all interesting. Director and actor Fred Vogel suggests his efforts are meant to be anti-violence statements and that the characters portrayed are worthy only of our disgust. If this were true he should have stopped long ago when some might have taken him at his word.

    Instead Vogel’s August Underground trilogy, and his work thereafter, are intent on challenging the viewer’s notions of depravity. As such, his protagonists become heroic in their efforts to surprise and ultimately entertain the audience.

    I see the absence of a plot as an effort to undermine conventional thoughts of order and direction which are the stalwarts of sanity. In movies where insanity is a central theme dramatic structure only detracts from the messages of moral anarchy and nihilism. A “plot” gives us something to hold onto whereas its absence, I believe, underlines the non-affirming nature of Vogel’s work.

    The Buddha would be impressed…

  2. The problem with Mordum is with the absence of a plot the violence becomes repetative & tedious. Another problem is without any background on the victims, they become nameless, faceless fodder that it is hard to develop any empathy for. I didn’t really see anything new with these movies that hadn’t already been done with movies like Flowers of Flesh & Blood & Tumbling Doll Of Flesh.
    Nice site, mind if I add a link for it on my page?.

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