Blu-Ray Review: The Bunny Game

'Sure to scramble the brain, melt the eyeballs, and break the noble spirit of even the most jaded shock junkies...'

Devon Ashbyby Devon Ashby

 

Having at last slimed its way horrifically to home video courtesy of Autonomy Pictures, the soul-vivisecting torture explosion The Bunny Game is currently available for purchase in a snazzy DVD/Blu-ray combo pack. Sure to scramble the brain, melt the eyeballs, and break the noble spirit of even the most jaded shock junkies, The Bunny Game features a convulsive and pathological performance from lead actress Rodleen Getsic, ostensibly based on her own real-life experience of abduction and torture.

Getsic plays a dope-sick prostitute, relentlessly abused and humiliated by her gutter-dwelling clientele, whose grindingly miserable existence is compromised even further when she encounters a grizzled and sadistic truck driver (Jeff Renfro) on the desolate outskirts of Los Angeles. Binding and immobilizing her in the back of his big rig, Renfro subjects Getsic to an increasingly depraved thrash of physical abuse and mental terrorism, climaxing with a deliriously profane ordeal in the blistering heat of the surrounding desert, which involves a suffocating, white leather bunny mask.

The Bunny Game was shot in black-and-white with virtually no story or dialogue, underscored by a pulsating soundtrack of abrasively blood-soaked heavy metal. The film is driven pretty much entirely by the strength and believability of its performances, which admittedly are pretty damn solid. It’s obvious from the raw energy of her screen presence that Getsic was a deeply involved collaborator in the project, not merely a passive puppet of the director. Her howling, contorted displays of agony are what transform The Bunny Game from an awkward and uncomfortable skeeve-out attempt into a genuinely searing chronicle of human desecration.

As raw and affecting as the movie is, however, it’s difficult to assess its ultimate meaning and value beyond the conveniently obscure realm of its central performer’s own personal catharsis. The film has already begun to amass a cult following, slowly ascending to its basically rightful place in the dubious pantheon of unflinching, jugular-gnawing cinematic shock excursions.

From a certain perspective, despite its essentially unique gimmick, The Bunny Game is merely the latest representative of a lurking subgenre of DIY sleaze hybrids that periodically sheds its skin and resurfaces with clockwork predictability. In the early 2000s, people wouldn’t shut up about Fred Vogel’s shot-on-VHS August Underground movies. A few years later, roundabout 2006, everyone was talking about Lucifer Valentine’s similarly unspeakable Slaughtered Vomit Dolls. This is to say nothing of the constant glut of gleefully depraved live-action guro porn staples like All Night Long and Flower of Flesh and Blood issuing ceaselessly from Japan, or of time-honored European perennials like Cannibal Holocaust and Salo.

Films like these, with their bald and singular determination to evoke emotional upset, go beyond the typical role of entertainment to merely distract, inspire, or provoke. They’re like vicarious emotional endurance tests, calibrated to stretch the aesthetic and spiritual limits of every individual who witnesses them, and they ultimately transcend unbiased critical interpretation for that reason. A film like The Bunny Game is meant to be experienced, not analyzed – its allure is so visceral that reviewing it is like trying to critically appraise an acid trip.

Autonomy Pictures’ Blu-ray includes commentary with Getsic and director Adam Rehmeier, as well as some trailers and stills, and a sixteen-minute making-of featurette called Caretaking the Monster, which is alternately weird, creepy, intriguing, and silly. The Bunny Game might not be art, but it’s definitely an artifact, and the intensity of its ethos will linger on your pallet long after the movie is over, no matter how hard you might try to scrub it away.