A Japanese horror film which features the lengthy and brutal torture of a young couple at the hands of a sadistic madman has been banned amid fears it could leave viewers psychologically damaged.
The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) said the film, called Grotesque, offered audiences “little more than an unrelenting and escalating scenario of humiliation, brutality and sadism” and refused to give it a certificate.
Its decision means that selling or supplying the film in the UK is now illegal.
Distributors had hoped the film, in which the characters are subjected to sexual assault, amputation and eye-gouging, would be given an 18 certificate. But after watching it alongside senior colleagues, BBFC director David Cooke concluded that it carried a “risk of harm” to the public.
The board said the film’s focus on the assault, humiliation and torture of the two victims meant it amounted to nothing more than a “spectacle of sadism”. It was particularly concerned by the scenes involving sexual assault.
“Unlike other recent torture-themed horror works, such as the Saw and Hostel series, Grotesque features minimal narrative or character development and presents the audience with little more than an unrelenting and escalating scenario of humiliation, brutality and sadism,” Mr Cooke said. “The chief pleasure on offer seems to be in the spectacle of sadism (including sexual sadism) for its own sake.
“Rejecting a work outright is a serious matter and the board considered whether the issue could be dealt with through cuts. However, given the unacceptable content featured throughout cutting the work is not a viable option in this case and the work is therefore refused a classification.”
The BBFC very rarely reject films outright, usually preferring to give advice to the filmmakers about how appropriate cuts could achieve their favoured certificate.
Last year, it turned down the film Murder Set Pieces, but before that it had not refused an 18 rating since 2005 when the film Terrorists, Killers And Other Wackos – featuring real clips of execution and torture – was rejected.
The UK distributors of Grotesque, 4Digital Asia, said they had been surprised by the BBFC’s decision and were considering an appeal.
A spokesperson said: “We knew that the BBFC was debating the content of the film quite intensely, but we had expected to receive from the BBFC a list of recommended cuts enabling the film to be passed with an 18 certificate. We are now considering whether or not to appeal against the board’s decision.”Reuse content