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Customer Review

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An astonishing film, great extras too., 20 Jun. 2008
This review is from: Henry - Portrait Of A Serial Killer [Uncut] [DVD] (DVD)
It has been years since I watched Henry on its initial theatrical release. I'm glad that I waited for an uncut release courtesy of the increasingly liberal BBFC to view it again.
Henry has lost none of it's power or intelligence over the years. As with "Peeping Tom" it raises questions of the viewer as to their motivations for watching, and responses to, the violence on show. The film has a grainy lo-fi edge that only adds to it's realism, but the cinematography is never less than stunning, as is the acting.
As it unfolds, the film becomes perhaps the definitive exploration of violence in American society. Henry's motivations as an extremely damaged product of a horrendous childhood are unflinchingly revealed in the intelligent and unsensational script, and we learn more than is comfortable about Ottis and Becky's family life. Dysfunctional families' roles in creating such warped humans has never been more brutally conveyed.
From a directorial point of view the variety of methods of depicting violence (from exploitative, almost comedic, gritty close-quarters grappling and gouging and ultimately horribly and skin-crawlingly sadistic in the infamous 'home invasion' sequence) is masterful, implicating the viewer in deeply uncomfortable ways in the mayhem, and it is a testament to McNaughton's skill that the whole holds together as well as it does.
This film is unlikely to please those seeking a slasher flick with a mounting bodycount, but is a fascinating study of repellent human beings (who have real emotional lives and interactions) for those seeking a cinema-verite journey to the heart of urban darkness. Henry is at once savage, frightening and deeply sad as an unflinching depiction of the lowest level of American society, the adult children of brutal messed-up families.
The extras are great too, allowing McNaughton to explain the concept, production of the film, as well as his influences and the long battle to release it free from the censors' interference.
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