August Underground’s Mordum (2003)

By losing all of the “in-between” moments of randomness and focusing exclusively on 80+ minutes of relentless, disgusting violence and reprehensible characters, August Underground’s Mordum loses everything that made the original film so effective.

The captured moments here feel much more like “plot beats” and “character development”. There always seems to be an argument erupting between Peter and Maggot where I would assume the characters would cease filming for those moments. A lot of it feels more staged and conventional, therefore less effective and convincing. In this one, there’s also a sense of “how far can we go” and all the horridness (which is really, really, really horrid) falls into the trap of coming across like shock value.

I like that the cameraman from the first film’s absence here is left unexplained but the additional characters are quite troublesome. The character of Maggot is one of the most repulsive characters you’ll ever meet to the point where he feels like exactly that: a character. The same goes for Crusty, who’s outrageous, attention seeking behavior suggests an actress simply wanting to stand out for being “fucking craaaazy man”. The fact she legitimately self-harms on camera also makes me uncomfortable. I don’t doubt the actress agreed to it wholeheartedly, maybe it was even her idea, but there’s a feeling that Vogel and co. took advantage of the actresses mind-frame at that time simply to give the film more “edge”.

The countless periphery characters who show up also don’t make much sense. I have no doubt there are underground communities of serial killers in the world, but this bunch of idiots partake in such grand carnage with such little subtlety that their ability to evade capture or suspicion is just not believable. The simplicity of the original is what made it so disturbing and terrifying. Even aesthetically. The lack of reason, the lack of pattern, the lack of chronological sense…aside form the progress of the murders the intervening scenes could have been shot any time for all we know. Here there is a very clear, clean cut narrative unfolding which feels like a big mistake. By trying to build on that foundation rather than developing it, Vogel misses the point.

This might be the most disgusting and fucked up thing I’ve ever seen which gives it some kind of badge on honour (hence the relatively high rating all things considered). Plus I also have a lot of admiration and respect for the actors and actresses who play the victims in these films. They are incredibly convincing and go through some potentially scarring experiences. A ugly, stupid piece of work. But you won’t forget it.

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