In the fourth instalment of the American Guinea Pig series (a homage to Japan’s infamous and equally grisly Guinea Pig tapes), Sacrifice is an intense assault that bravely strips the splatter genre down to its bare bones to patiently and resolutely unravel its single-minded storyline.

Set solely inside the confines of one candlelit bathroom, Daniel (Roberto Scorza) plays both tortured victim and sadistic butcher as he uses knives, scalpels, drills and screwdrivers like ‘keys’ to sever, flay, gorge and mutilate himself. The goal? To connect with a seductive, malevolent force that unlocks the “dark places […] hidden deep inside the abysses of our cities and our brains”. This, however, is merely the hook for an elementary purpose: to deliver as much as blood, guts and gruelling agony in one hour as possible.

From features like Hellraiser and Hostel to Tokyo Gore Police and Ichi the Killer, director Poison Rogue effectively utilises increasingly visceral, violent imagery to keep the audience knotted up in discomfort. Although Sacrifice is just one hour in length, Rogue confidently portrays Daniel’s self-mutilation in real time. This allows the silent tension to build up inside this claustrophobic set piece and for the audience to share the extreme experiences of our protagonist as he weeps, vomits and passes out from the pain.

Like Clive Barker’s Hellbound Heart, Bret Easton Ellis’ American Psycho and the works of the Marquis de Sade, Sacrifice closely interlinks sexual imagery with genital mutilation and violence. This, however, much like its vague social-political critiques, only serves to heighten the core driving force of the piece: the destruction of the human body. Daniel’s dying thoughts — “Why didn’t you tell me about the infinite black horizon that, in the end, is waiting for us all?” — arguably emphasises that his sacrifice, Rogue’s plot line, and perhaps even the splatter genre itself, is all an exercise in superficial, unashamed nihilism.

While Sacrifice fails to break beyond the boundaries of this haematic genre, it’s still a stern test for even the most hardened splatter film fanatics. The monologues are cliched, but Scorza offers a powerful solo performance in a punchy cut that delivers, literally and figuratively, bathtubs of blood.

Roberto Scorza
Flora Giannattasio

Poison Rouge

Samuel Marolla

Available now

Posted by Jim Reader

Jim is a London-based journalist who has worked for a number of titles, including Bizarre, Vogue, Boxing News and the Daily Sport. He graduated from the University of Nottingham in 2009 and became a Master of Research in American Literature in 2010.