After ‘Bone Sickness’ I was genuinely wondering how US ultra-gore director Brian Paulin was going to outdo himself; the trailer for ‘Fetus’ didn’t leave me pondering for long.
It would appear, clearly not being content with the splatter style gore which his zombie movie delivered by the bucket load, Paulin seemed intent to deliver a more darker, more grotesque vision of horror, akin to the ultra-violent sleaze movies of the 1980s and 90s.
His change in style pays off. ‘Fetus’ is fucking killer.
The story takes a slightly more serious tone from that of his previous work. Kevin (Paulin) looses everything when complications during the birth of his child mean that both his wife and newborn child die on the delivery table. Struggling to recover from the blow, he desperately seeks any method possible to contact them again; a search which inevitably leads him to dabbling with the occult. An ancient ritual, naturally requiring blood sacrifices seems to be the only way - and needs must!
The opening scenes set the tone of the movie from the get go. The scene in the delivery ward followed by several poignant scenes of Kevin’s despair and contemplations of suicide make the point they need to, and it is not long before we get going with the stuff Fetus promised to deliver - the gore.
If anybody knows their horror they should know that legends such as Tom Savini have built their reputation on delivering some of the finest on-screen prosthetic gore effects which continue to be the stuff modern effects are compared against today. It is not too bold a statement to say that Paulin delivers not only notable tribute to such masters, but on screen, truly rivals their efforts. Fetus really pushes the boundaries with gruesome impact. As with the tone of the movie, the gore this time round feels far more brutal and grimy than anything Paulin has delivered before; teeth are chiselled inwards, one guys face literally explodes and one poor gut gets his arm flayed (plus countless other scenes which would be spoiled if I continued to list them all). Rest assured all the gore is shown on screen, looks as real as life, and fuck me does it force you to watch.
The torture above is all supported by an outstanding ambient score which matches the tone and pace of the movie perfectly. As if it was lifted straight from one of the black metal albums frequently featured in the films set, the mixture of synthesiser and drone creates an atmosphere which feels both hollow, but moving, again a reflection of Kevin’s emotional state.
Whilst the above certainly consolidates ‘Fetus’ with a strong score, I feel obliged at this stage of the review to chip in with a couple of negatives. First off, as simple as the story is, many of the actions and scenes towards the end of the movie seem to take off on a completely mental tangent leaving us a little confused as to what was going on. It’s true, ‘Bone Sickness’ got a bit weird at the end too, but at least that could be rationalised within the constraints of the film. With ‘Fetus’, despite several viewings, I would be hard pressed to explain the last 15 minutes to anyone! It’s not enough to drag the film down, it just prevents that nice feeling of closure as everything comes together just before the credits role.
That said, ‘Fetus’ is pretty much an essential watch for any fans of the gore genre. It’s quick paced, teeters on the edge of being just plain sick (did I forget to mention the necrophilia?) and is excessively gory; all the hallmarks of a quality Saturday night in.