Bear with me. I was sent this film via an online link without subtitles or any knowledge of what it was about. Writer-director Patrick Fortin suggested it was self-explanatory so, with a little research and an open mind, I dived in. Here are my thoughts on what this French-Canadian short offered, and my interpretation of events ...
It all opens with innocuous home video footage of three children, a boy and two girls, playing in what seems to be a happy household. The music is light, the mood is amiable; nothing seems remotely off.
Then we cut to a young woman (Camille Monette) in cropped black shorts, short dark hair and tattooed legs wandering through a graveyard and nearby woodlands by day. She happens upon a dead bird on the ground, puts on her rubber gloves and scoops it up, placing it in her sports bag. Walking through the quiet Quebec streets, she's then accosted by a youth in a shell-suit who makes the unfortunate choice of catcalling her. Removing a hammer from her trusty sports bag, she strides straight up to the offending male and smacks him squarely in his nose. He gives chase, catching up with her in the unkempt shared back garden of her apartment block.
But this girl is prepared. She stabs him in the groin and promptly rips his cock off. Just in case that's not enough of a message that his attention is unwanted, she then takes a handily available machete and embeds it into his skull causing his brains to spew down his face and his eyes to pop out of their sockets. Then she disembowels him with a rake. Whether or not she needed to decapitate him, eat his eyeball, headbutt his disembodied bonce and punch it several times, before setting fire to it ... well, that's all up for debate. It looks to be a gloriously sunny day at the time though, so there is that.
But wait. Our unnamed protagonist isn't quite finished yet. Bodily dismemberment ensues, with the woman occasionally pausing to do body stretches and hold a pose while blood gushes all over her.
We then move on to the next event. To this end we see this same woman shaving her head and getting dolled up in a black dress, going to an event at what looks like an art gallery. Later that night while walking home alone she becomes aware of a hooded man behind her, his pace quickening. He approaches her menacingly; she clubs him several times then drags his comatose body into a waiting rat-infested warehouse where she handily has a sword, a smaller blade, a claw-hammer and power drill all at the ready. Yes, they're all put to extensive use in a red-hued montage of bloody mayhem involving bare breasts and a whole load of a molesting a slimy corpse's head.
A new day emerges. We meet our heroine preparing herself by tooling up with a lethal-looking weapon in her apartment and placing a white ski-mask over her face. This time she has a fellow female friend who readies herself in the same way. The pair takes an afternoon stroll in the local park, where three young men make the fatal mistake of calling out in their direction. Of course, this results in much more gory retribution - even incorporating a machine gun that appears literally from nowhere.
Afterwards, our lead returns home and reminisces sadly over more childhood home video footage. It's at this point that a gum-chewing police officer with spiky hair comes calling. He talks his way into her apartment, discovering damning evidence in her kitchen in the process. Whether or not he says something inappropriate is debatable, but he certainly gets rough treatment for his troubles.
The last few minutes of CATCALL TRILOGY go even more mental with a succession of scenes cataloguing our heroine destroying men in all sorts of scenarios: someone who initially stops to help fix her car; breaking up a brawl in the park (cue green blood?!) etc. Expect throat-slashings, skin-flaying, fists punched through craniums and so on.
This is, I gather, an amalgamation of three short films shot by Canadian filmmaker Patrick Fortin under the banner of his Goriest Production stable. CATCALL came first (the garden-based massacre), followed closely by GOREFEST 2 (the more stylishly shot warehouse bloodbath), and CATCALL 3 - the final 20 minutes of mayhem.
As a whole - this trilogy runs as one film, clocking in at 37 minutes and 3 seconds in length - it flows thanks to Monette being the lead throughout and the recurring theme of a woman who's simply had enough of random men objectifying her and thinking it's acceptable to intimidate her with open taunts of a presumably sexual nature. This concept would ordinarily draw comparisons to the likes of I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE and MS 45, among many others, but this is no rape-revenge film. Fortin forgoes that unsavoury trigger point and has Monette pre-empt such a transgression by killing her would-be assailants before they get the chance to make their intentions physical. Perhaps Monette was a victim previously? Perhaps the message is that the intent is there because these guys are being sexually suggestive, and that's just as bad? Without subtitles, it's hard to know Fortin's intention but I'm sure there's insight to be had in Monette's (French) narration over many expositional scenes.
At one point she sees graffiti saying "Abandonne" and adds the word "Jamais" underneath in spray paint - changing the sentiment of the message from "abandon hope" to "never give up".
Artistically, CATCALL TRILOGY often recalls the low-rent but aesthetically ambitious style of NEKROMANTIK. A constant whirring noise of a camera soon becomes par for the course, despite the fact that this is seemingly shot on low-res digital video. Gooey unconvincing practical effects are akin to BAD TASTE - albeit a hell of a lot more gory. Good squishy sound effects add to the general effect, undoubtedly, and the editing is often on point too. True, there's precious little logic to what's going on and the lack of continuity (hair colours, costumes, even weapons of choice change within scenes) lends events a surreal bent which strangely works in the film's favour.
I also enjoyed the nicely gritty locations, and was impressed by how many grisly gore scenes were shot guerrilla-style on open streets. How did they get away with that?! The film is well-shot in general, with a lot of the handheld camerawork looking very professional.
The practical FX work, as mentioned above, is enjoyably crude. This comes courtesy of Gore Gore Dave, Fortin, Monette and fellow cult filmmaker James Bell. Much of it is accompanied by an agreeable mix of classical music, death metal and hardcore punk.
CATCALL and GOREFEST 2 enjoyed a very limited DVD release of just 100 copies. However, Fortin informs me that his intention is to expand on this current trilogy and eventually have a feature film in his hands. And, yes, he fully intends any future release to come equipped with English subtitles (although, I must say, if you're an unrepentant gorehound you won't be crying out for them!).
You can get more info on how to see CATCALL TRILOGY and keep up to date with developments on the ongoing plight to expand this ludicrously grisly odyssey to feature-length by following the filmmakers on their Facebook page, Goriest Production.
If you like your gore cheap, excessive and imbued with an element of artistic aspiration - not to mention a strong, welcome feminist strain - then you definitely need to check this out. I'm certainly looking forward to the day Fortin realises his goal and fashions a full feature film out of this material.
Review by Stuart Willis
|Directed by Patrick Fortin|