Live by Night
The key question behind Live by Night isn’t so much “Why did they bother?” as “What went wrong?”
I had a hard time watching "Wolf Creek." It is a film with one clear purpose: To establish the commercial credentials of its director by showing his skill at depicting the brutal tracking, torture and mutilation of screaming young women. When the killer severs the spine of one of his victims and calls her "a head on a stick," I wanted to walk out of the theater and keep on walking.
It has an 82 percent "fresh" reading over at the Tomatometer. "Bound to give even the most seasoned thriller seeker nightmares" (Hollywood Reporter). "Will have Wes Craven bowing his head in shame" (Clint Morris). "Must be giving Australia's Outback tourism industry a bad case of heartburn" (Laura Clifford). "Vicious torrent of bloodletting. What more can we want?" (Harvey Karten). One critic who didn't like it was Matthew Leyland of the BBC: "The film's preference for female suffering gives it a misogynist undertow that's even more unsettling than the gore."
A "misogynist" is someone who hates women. I'm explaining that because most people who hate women don't know the word. I went to the Rotten Tomatoes roundup of critics not for tips for my own review, but hoping that someone somewhere simply said, "Made me want to vomit and cry at the same time."
I like horror films. Horror movies, even extreme ones, function primarily by scaring us or intriguing us. Consider "Three ... Extremes" recently. "Wolf Creek" is more like the guy at the carnival sideshow who bites off chicken heads. No fun for us, no fun for the guy, no fun for the chicken. In the case of this film, it's fun for the guy.