From the film’s IMDB.com page citation:
“Four friends are kidnapped by a madman and locked in a house with six other people. Each of the captives has to endure life-threatening torture to fill a device attached to their heads or they will be trapped inside forever.”
Never let it be said that Horror films make perfect sense.
For clarity’s sake, let me further explain the plot: each of these inhabitants abducted and detained in this fully sealed house has been specially fitted with a medical instrument that extracts chemicals manufactured by his or her brain only during moments of extreme stress. Tampering with it in any way will cause the instrument to release a deadly toxin that will kill the wearer. Over the course of the next twenty-four hours, the group is tasked with cooperating to produce the desired amount of these sought after chemicals; should they successfully complete the task, then they’ll presumably be set free. If they fail to do so, they’ll all be murdered.
How can they produce what’s desired?
Why, they need to torture one another, of course.
However, at one point in Eric Jay Beck and Rob Kowsaluk’s script for Vile – originally shot and released over a decade ago but likely seeing new light-of-day thanks to director Taylor Sheridan’s rising stardom (with the Yellowstone TV saga) – one character points out that these same brain chemicals sought by their captor are produced both in torture as well as during sex. (I’ve done a bit of Googling, and, yes, this would appear to be the case, though I did follow one rabbit hole suggesting levels may’ve been much lower.) So when sex and even masturbation could’ve done the job, this group of wayward souls instead decided torture was the way to go.
Good grief. No wonder we’re going extinct.
Essentially, that’s about all there is to the increasingly bloody yarn that makes up all of Vile. Similar in concept to the popular Saw franchise (albeit with vastly more primitive sequences), the film goes about the business of beating, batting, breaking, bloodying, and bruising these occupants in ways that do grow a bit more creative with each tick of the clock and never revisits why they’re all so damn happy to sacrifice their humanity at such a heavy price. Naturally, it unspools with shifting alliances – as you can imagine, a few of them take a bit too vigorously to these pursuits – and there are hints that one or another might even be behind all of it … but such nuance never really matters when the butts in the seats are motivated chiefly by the gratuitous violence.
And, yes, there’s plenty of that.
IMDB.com reports that Vile was previously released theatrically and on home video over a decade ago, so why (oh why) would it take ten years for this gruesome little picture to be rediscovered? Though I could be wrong, I’m inclined to point fingers at Sheridan’s involvement as serving as the catalyst for its re-release. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with a bit of capitalism here and there, but given this one’s bare bones construction a thinking person might question whether or not Sheridan would want his name attached to this one any longer. Now that he’s found stardom, such baseless pursuits might cheapen his brand. But who knows? A buck made is a buck made, after all, and kudos to all of those who showed up and bled for the cause.
Its performances – while nice here and there – don’t offer up anything new or novel to the whole torture sub-genre. Screenwriter Beck also gets top billing here, and why shouldn’t he? Wasn’t it safest for him to show his fellow castmates that he, too, was willing to put his mouth where his money was? Sadly, far too many of the others just blend together too much to draw much praise or reflect on what they accomplished. In fact, I question why so little effort was made by these characters to truly explore their prison – was there really no means of escape? – but perhaps that’s fodder left on the cutting room floor. The players all vacillate reasonably well between moments of mental and physical angst. A stronger script might’ve given them more to work with when it comes to their respective motivations; but – at the end of it all – what was required was a lot of screaming, wriggling, crying, sweating, moaning, staring, and bleeding.
Their demographic excels in all of those categories.
Vile (2011) was produced by Tony-Seven Films and Vile Entertainment. DVD distribution (for this particular release) is being coordinated by the fine folks at MVD Visual Entertainment Group. As for the technical specifications? While I’m no trained video expert, I had some minor issues with the sights and sounds on this one, though it’s far more a question of aesthetic choice than anything else. Why capture some sequences like they were home video bits? Why not commit fully to a theatrical format as so much of the picture was done? It’s a distraction, but thankfully it only works in bookend segments to the production. Lastly, if you’re looking for special features? There are a few deleted scenes (mostly unnecessary filler that never quite progresses the plot) and the theatrical trailer, but that’s all, folks. Disappointing as I’m probably one of the last reviewers alive who dig commentaries, but it is what it is.
Recommended because …
There will likely always be an audience for this kind of violent picture, and I say that not in any way to celebrate the torture that fuels nearly each and every scene of Vile (2011). Fans of Horror have a long fascination with such acts, all the way back to the schlock days when pioneering auteurs introduced power tools to a handful of direct-to-VHS release markets. Screenwriters Beck and Kowsaluk do try (in small ways) to give a few of these players some added dimensions, but – hey – don’t kid yourselves, folks. Those who screen this are chiefly interested in the torture, and until they’re dishing out Oscars in the category “Most Bloodcurdling Screamer In A Supporting Role” that’ll always likely be the case.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at MVD Visual Entertainment provided me with a complimentary Blu-ray of Vile (2011) by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review. Their contribution to me in no way, shape, or form influenced my opinion of it.