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On October 29, 2009, Montreal-based Special FX make-up artist Rémy Couture was standing on the corner of Hochelaga and Lacordaire Streets right outside his studio. He was supposedly on the phone with a ‘Steve Lacombe’ who along with his girlfriend was scheduled to meet Couture at 6pm to shoot some gruesome photographs for their upcoming Halloween party, but Lacombe was lost. As Couture was searching for the man, he was approached from behind and tapped on the shoulder. A gentleman asked if he was Rémy Couture. Upon replying in the affirmative, the man grabbed Couture’s arm, a woman quickly appeared, badges and guns were flashed and Couture was informed he was under arrest for corruption of morals with regards to his website Innerdepravity.com. And thus begins the long and twisted tale of Remy Couture.
But what is Innerdepravity.com and why would the website of a working FX Artist become the topic of a worldwide Interpol investigation resulting in Couture begin charged in Canadian court with a law that is, for lack of a better word, antiquated? According the Couture his website is nothing more than a sizzle reel, a demo, a portfolio. Well, that’s not completely true. His site is certainly something more than that. In Couture’s own words, Inner Depravity “highlights a psychopath killer committing fictitious murders. The site contained over 20 photo sessions and two short cuts. The realism of the make-up and the settings might leave people perplex. It was a site which could be construed as the fake intimate visual and brought to life diaries of a fictitious psychopath. The scenes were produced and directed in an artistic context as is the case for the best known horror movies known by the large public. What made my site popular is apparently its dark feeling due to the scenes of very explicit nature.”
It’s the nature of the photos that caused the stir. In particular, the photo session that sparked the Interpol investigation featured the murder and subsequent corpse disposal of an angel-faced 10-year old boy. Fearing a website on the internet was in fact reality, someone in Germany reported the site to the police a full 3-years before Couture’s unfortunate evening arrest. The subsequent investigation tha t lead to Couture’s arrest and possible conviction has baffled not only the horror community, but even legal experts in Canada as well.
Art/Crime is a documentary that traces the history of the case leading up to the pending trial–scheduled for October 2011. Surprisingly enough, what began as an investigation of the possible murder of a child, then morphed into possible child abuse charges, before finally settling on a ‘corruption of morals’ (a charge that virtually no one was willing to prosecute) highlights another fracture in a legal system, that readily lets murders walk free while prosecuting the innocent to ‘save face’. Several experts seem to believe Couture is being made an example of to either (a) change the 50+ year old laws to reflect a new ‘internet’ culture, or (b) to justify years of police work that resulted in revelations that none of the alleged crimes had actually been committed. For Couture, one of the more eerily accurate FX artists working today, the feeling is that he is being prosecuted for doing work that is just ‘too good’.
While Art/Crime feels at times like a film that is preaching to the choir, the film does highlight several interesting interviews with people such as a former police investigator who feels that every aspect of this case was handled poorly. Even the current police officer interviewed for the documentary–who chooses his words very carefully due to the fact that this case is still pending litigation–alludes to the fact that Couture is being unfairly prosecuted.
The evidence that Couture did nothing more than put his images on the internet (where they are readily available for viewing…if you know where to look) as opposed to on a movie screen along side Saw and Hostel–where they have been vetted and rated by the Régie du cinéma (the Québécois equivalent of the MPAA) seems to be the crux of the case. Therefore, it would seem that a defense attorney could simply turn on a computer in the court room and Google “Violent porno” and come up with 10,000 sites (surely some sitused in Canada) to show this is a case of selective prosecution and that ‘public morals’ should be decided upon by the public. And, perhaps that is exactly what will happen in what might just turn out to be a French Canadian version of The People vs. Larry Flynt.