Almost forty years ago, in July 1961, psychologist Stanley Milgram started a series of social psychology experiments. These experiments, based on Nazi war criminals and their heinous acts, were devised to answer a simple question – How far are people willing to go when instructed by authority?
Vile, a new film written by Eric Beck and directed by Taylor Sheridan, hones these experiments in a familiar setting.
After a long introduction, where the game of “Would You Rather?” takes precedence, the story begins. Nick, played by none other than Beck, and his pregnant girlfriend Tayler, stop for gas late one night after a few days of camping with their friends Tony and Kai. The setup from here is simple. An attractive, older woman approaches Nick at the station claiming that her car has run out of gas up the road and she needs a lift back. Once they reach her car, the “strange cougar” entices the girls in the car with samples of perfume she personally makes and sells. As Tayler rolls her eyes once more to Nick’s succumbing to this woman’s plea, the woman reappears in a gas mask and sprays toxic fumes into the car.
Fast forward hours or days later, where the four friends sit tied to chairs, with two vials (Get it? Vial. Vile. No?) attached to the base of their skulls and wired into their brains, while another group of strangers stare them down, asking why they are there and mumbling about a mysterious video. Greg, the strong leader of the group of strangers says he cannot wait – grabs a pair of pliers and eagerly pulls a fingernail from Kai’s hand.
This action sets off a timer on a tv screen which once more plays the mysterious video.
They have 22 hours to fill the vials on the back of their heads. The vials will only be filled if the wearer experiences pain. The group concludes they need the chemicals to create a drug made from dopamine, serotonin, and adrenaline. Said drug can only be made by experimenting on people. Cue an hour of the group torturing each other in various ways including hot irons, boiling water, and tools.
Reminiscent of Cube and Saw, Vile definitely produces the fear and paranoia a group of strangers would have in such circumstances – and it holds it all up with piles of torture and gore. If you get off on seeing innocent people subjected to horrific pain and Vile (haha!) situations, then you will definitely enjoy this film!
For someone who knows how detrimental medication can be to the quality of life – and the horrific circumstances if one does not get such medication – I would’ve loved to have seen this side of the story explored further. We are definitely blind as to what goes into making drugs safe and producing said drugs to begin with. And, as the film tries to show, it is true that people don’t care where the medicine comes from, they will just pay for it and be on their way.
For those who search beyond visual gore for a solid meaning to a story, Vile gives you a taste of what could be a thought provoking film – but just falls short. Had there been more explanation or purpose to said drug, I think my reaction would’ve been stronger.
It would have also helped if the DVD had not arrived with a big “postage due” sticker – which I then had to pay. That, in itself, was pretty Vile.
However, within the subgenre that Vile lives, aka torture porn, the movie will be a sure hit.