Fetus (2008) Review
I've now seen several gory horror movies by Brian Paulin, two of which I enjoy as much as vintage Lucio Fulci, Inside and even more than Olaf Ittenbach's best pieces (his nasty shot on video gore chambers, Black Past and The Burning Moon, rather than his ambitious, but often dull "big" movies).
I hope Mr. Paulin gets his due.
Certainly, the viewer needs to accept certain things that come with a micro budget labor of love like Fetus and undoubtedly some viewers want quickly-edited bloody action movies (28 Days Later and The Descent) rather than atmospheric isolated horror, which is my preference (eg. Rosemary's Baby, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Scarecrows, City of the Living Dead, Inside, Profondo Rosso, The Shout, Lost Highway). I imagine that if this piece (and Bone Sickness) were shot on film in the seventies and rediscovered now, they would be ubiquitously categorized as "essential cult."
((I don't have a problem with shot on video stuff (which this is), especially when the compositions and lightning are as thoughtful as they are here and i believe there is a some benefit to the extra visual information you get at 29.97 fps, a different level of reality, even if the image isn't quite as pretty. It's not better than film, but different with it's own quality.))
When comparing Fetus to Paulin's seemingly best known work, Bone Sickness, Fetus is altogether better realized-- the compositions, lighting, acting and effects are of a higher caliber-- but Fetus is less ambitious in terms of its scope. So Fetus is more professional and less flawed than Bone Sickness, but it does not reach as high or sustain its crescendo for nearly as long. I also appreciate the fact that Fetus is done in a completely serious way, rather than the jokey splatter of Jackson or Evil Dead II or Shaun of the Dead kind of stuff.
The music is strong, and in an older Giallo style, which helps the vibe. There are certainly some moments that confused me-- audio & effects ideas that didn't fully translate-- but this movie and Bone Sickness are the best shot on video horror movies I've seen, and they overachieve in so many departments (inventiveness, craziness, atmosphere, gore, etc.) that all the flaws are easily forgiven.
If you liked Ittenbach's Black Past & The Burning Moon, I recommend Fetus, which is a comparable chamber of gore, though Fetus is better written and photographed and is aided by a very good score. I look forward to more work by this driven and talented guy.