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Severed Cinema review of Torment - Enchanted Architect - Unearthed Films

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Music Review: Comus - First Utterance - Rock Fever Music

Music Review: No Please Not in my Mouth - Poison Rouge - White Gardenia

Xpiation - Domiziano Cristopharo Print E-mail
User Rating: / 7
Written by Jay Creepy   
Thursday, 30 August 2018
Severed Cinema review of Xpiation


Directed by: Domiziano Cristopharo
Written by: Andrea Cavaletto
Produced by: Domiziano Cristopharo, Stefano Bastiani
Cinematography by: Domiziano Cristopharo
Editing by: Domiziano Cristopharo
Music by: Antony Coia
Special Effects by: Athanasius Pernath
Cast: Chiara Pavoni, Simone Tolu, Emanuele Delia, Sofia Ferelli, Roberta Ferelli, Giorgio Agri. Chris Milewski (voice), Karen Lynn (voice)
Year: 2018
Country: Italy
Language: English
Runtime: 1hr 14mins


Domiziano Cristopharo hardly needs an introduction to Severed regulars, having found many of his works under the all-seeing Creepy Eye microscope, not to mention articles and a lengthy interview. Thus we find ourselves dissecting his latest creation, Xpiation.

What I noticed straight away is a change of pace and style, there's a fluid and rich feel to the beginning as the camera lovingly laps up the derelict building in which we are to stay for almost the whole duration of this film. Now that itself, in this day and age, is a brave and still quite original quest basing everything in a small enclosure, namely one room. The challenge of course is to keep proceedings gripping enough for every person who wanders into the film. Yeah, no probs there. Domiziano is an artist and a craftsman, you know?

The music is captivating and heavily constructed to suit the gloomy and questioning mood of the film (thanks to the man behind the Scarecrowd score). Why is there a stern looking woman sat in a chair with a camcorder? Usually that isn't an issue, but the soundtrack tells you she could be a lot more. She has a pierced and tattooed fella tied and ball gagged on a chair in the empty building. Let's give her the benefit of the doubt though, since the meaning of the title, or Expiation, at least, is 'the act of making atonement' so things may be deeper than the face value (it's a Domiziano flick, naturally it'll be deeper!!)

As he cries and struggles, she morosely keeps on filming. All the while there's been a bald bloke curled up on the floor asleep in front of the captive. He gets up and leers at the guy then slaps him about, leers some more and basically intimidates. The face slaps jump into slow-mo for a while and our camera lady allows herself a slight smile which fades quickly as she thinks back – as a child being slapped by her drunken mother.

“You must be patient.” she tells her violent slavering comrade as he suckles her breast, “I told you it wouldn't be easy.” After much nipple attention and far less conversation, he staggers off to put a record on then crouches beside his victim.

There's a nice and remarkably possibly revealing scene as two dealers enter the building, we see him beside an empty chair and soon it looks as if they might not exist either. Thus we witness a prolonged agonising drama as he uses a wire pad on his victim's bare leg and all the blood to go with it – then cutting sometimes to see he is only viciously assailing a wall. He sees the dealers are in fact demons. So who exactly is he? Somebody playing on a tightrope between two sides of hell in his mind it could be. Freaking out, he is comforted by the sinister lady and he is dragged back to that realm whilst she patiently calms him. “Tell me, what makes you happy?” she asks. He contorts his face and shamelessly overacts, “Drugs!” “And?” she pushes. “You.” he smiles.

Flashbacks again as she discovers her hubby (co-star from POE 4, Giorgio Agri) cheating on her. His look of bewilderment as he hears her step into the room is comical. He leaps up from the man he's screwing and follows her trying to explain. Things turn violent, of course.

“The face,” once recovered from his little mind fuck, thanks to a pill slipped into his mouth, our torturer carries on his function, “The face, it's the most important part of our body. It shows emotions. The face. It's our calling card.” His speech is prelude to facial disfigurement which arouses her until she recalls her abusive teenage years. She has to leave for a while to tend to a client, thus leaving her wretched pet to entertain their suffering captive. Yeah, he has a fair few painful ideas to try out. As a matter of fact when she returns, they both happily wade in until we find out what it's all about.

Xpiation is a wholly different experience to what you might expect. Back in my interview with Domiziano, I compared him to Alejandro Jodorwsky and certainly, like the best of Jodorwsky, the underflow of religious symbolism illuminates and unravels to reveal itself at the conclusion which brings about the use of agony to purify the eternal soul. Not to say this dilutes what is on the screen, the impact isn't lessened by this factor at least.

Chiara Pavoni, previously seen in POE 4: The Black Cat (see review), Demonium, Violent Shit: The Movie, and many more, is absolutely scene-stealing as the nameless brooding, forever glaring central lady.

On the other side of the scale, Simone Tolu, as our torturing tormenting bald leering fella is simply an irritating bastard all the way through! No depth and no soul, just making noises and pulling faces. My apologies to everyone who involved themselves and immersed deeply into making what could have been a dark and lavish mood piece burrowing itself into my mind like a feral animal looking for food, however Simone did nothing but destroy any sense of wonder I might have obtained from this film. By purpose and design is he meant to be ironic? Sardonic? Anything else ending with 'ic'? Is he then a drug addict? Let me set the record straight here, for years I worked alongside many drug addicts as clients in various pawnbrokers and buyback stores. I have never seen anyone at any level of drug usage act this way! So then, must he be someone living in different realms of fantasy and clawing his way through madness? One or the other as an explanation doesn't soothe the rash he causes I'm afraid. As regarding what he is, I’m not revealing anything.

Which is a complete and utter shame, for I have to credit the direction and balance of angles. Setting a whole movie in basically one place (aside from brief flashbacks of course) there is much creativity to be seen for the switching constant cameras. The effects are totally marvellous – simple and to the point. Not flashy, just blood and allowing pain to be felt by the viewers. Watching as the guy's face is severed and cut doesn't hold back, it's graphic. Yeah, there's cut away moments, but it always come back to show more brutality.

Throughout the ridiculously over the top and mugging performance by Simone I truly attempted to adore this film. As I stated above, take that away and I wouldn't have found myself angry at some points whilst watching. I think personally the film will require a second watch, but as it stands for this review, I simply like Xpiation. The idea is basic, but filled by heady visuals that I recommend it to Severed readers. Who knows, maybe you'll discover something worthwhile in Simone as well.




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