Bunny is a young girl who lives on the streets and sells her body in order to pay for drugs and alcohol. When she propositions a semi-truck driver, she soon finds herself chained up in the back of his truck where the games will begin.
When you hear the term 'shock film' certain movies come to mind; perhaps it's "Srpski Film", or maybe "Martyrs", could even be "Murder-Set-Pieces" for the wannabe-esoteric. When you think about it though, are these films really shocking? They certainly contain graphic scenes of violence and/or occasionally sexual acts that could possibly offend. Why is that though? No matter how good the special effects are or how good the acting is, you know you are watching a movie and that none of it is real. Or in the case of "Srpski Film", they polished their movie to the point that they made the violence and the general 'shocking' nature of it sterile. It's not effective because it feels like nothing more than a product. No matter how much blood they splash the screen with. People like to use the terms 'raw' and 'gritty' when describing such movies, but at the end of the day it is also untrue because they are still movies that look like movies. Thanks to my buddy James DePaolo, I was able to get in touch with Adam and received a screener for "The Bunny Game". A movie that is likely to redefine what a shock film is because it breaks down the walls of fantasy and traditional filmmaking methods.
From the start, "The Bunny Game" throws you into Bunny's world: a world where a woman turns to prostitution to feed her drug addiction and lives a life of degradation and misery. This leads her to meeting Hog, an unknown truck driver who kidnaps Bunny and psychological tortures her in order to, essentially, destroy a human being. "The Bunny Game" does not waste time and cater to the idea of what people believe is required to tell a story; when the movie starts you are almost dropped into the middle of a story. Or rather, one that is already in progress that we get to see only a portion of. With that we are not given traditional back stories or senseless exposition. There is nothing needlessly added here to try and make you feel one way or another about characters to generate false sympathy or give an explanation to justify why Hog and Bunny do what they do.
As strange as it sounds, the (supposed) lack of explanation of story or characters makes it feel more real. Since, frankly, all of it would have been unnecessary and it would have all felt forced. Adam and Rodleen let the events that unfold and the characters themselves dictate the emotional level of "The Bunny Game". When you watch Bunny sell herself so she can do drugs, you don't want to and shouldn't care for her or her plight. Yet you do. All simply because you watch the character and how she behaves in her world between being violated and the substance abuse. Such a person could and would be easily brushed off yet as we watch, you certainly begin to feel for Bunny as even her lifestyle takes an emotional toll on her. And much like Bunny's character, we are never told who Hog is or why he is doing this to her or any of his past victims. But once again, do we need to? The answer is no.
It is unimportant as to why Hog abducts and psychologically abuses women. Some will say that means that the violence and torture is done merely for the sake of it. Incorrect. The audience is like his victims - we simply don't know why. As they say, the unknown is far more frightening than the known. It leaves us with only the choice of sitting there and watching the destruction of person. It causes you to not actually think about what it is you’re watching - it all becomes gut reactions.
I do find it funny though that when I first started talking to Adam about "The Bunny Game", he essentially warned me that there would be no blood or general special effects used. It's interesting to see that because of our current situation in the cinematic world of where movies are trying to out gore one another. A filmmaker actually felt the need to give a disclaimer that their movie doesn't feature any blood or gore because that's what people expect to get these days. What makes "The Bunny Game" more frightening and more shocking is it's complete lack of red corn syrup; all the violence is real and the mental torture feels real. When Hog man handles and abuses these women, he is actually doing it. You feel every slap, you wince and cringe when he throws them around, spits in their face, suffocates them with plastic bags. And you most certainly hear and shudder at the crackling of skin being burned when Bunny and another nameless victim are actually branded with hot metal.
All of that; the characters, the story, the violence, degradation - it all contributes to the movie's ability to cross the line of fiction into reality. Other reviewers have commented on the voyeuristic nature of "The Bunny Game" and that's because it looks and feels like you are watching is real. Even with the experimental editing and the general artistic nature of the movie, it still manages to blur that line between real and fake. Even the smallest details manage to help sell this, such as Bunny screaming for her life hoping that someone will hear her. Quite frankly I've never seen a movie that has managed to capture such a guttural and almost primitive scream from an actress. But that's why "The Bunny Game" is so powerful and terrifying, it's that it makes you feel like you are watching something you shouldn't be.
Part of me wants to call "The Bunny Game" a shock film, but honestly, I think that term would sell the movie and what it accomplishes short and how unique it is. Yes, the movie is an unbelievably harsh viewing experience of a man breaking down a woman mentally. Or rather, a man simply destroying another human, and because the focus is on the mind and not so much of the flesh, it feels far more devastating. "The Bunny Game" also features an amazing artistic direction that has the cinematography and the sound design compliment and almost matches the insanity of Hog and the mental breakdown of Bunny. Once more, it doesn't cause the movie to ever lose that sense of realism that makes it stand out the way it does.
Honestly, I feel my review doesn't do "The Bunny Game" justice because it is such a wild and intense movie that feels more like an experience than entertainment. Not just because of what the movie does and succeeds at, but because Adam has an interesting vision. "The Bunny Game" is punk-anarchist filmmaking; (similar to early Shinya Tsukamoto and Sogo Ishii) it's made Adam's way and does things differently but pulls them off seamlessly. There isn't anything left to say other than see this movie. Don't think about it; just watch "The Bunny Game" as soon as it becomes available, which will be around Easter.