Published:, July, 2007

Matthew Saliba’s “She Was Asking For It,” showing July 12th as part of the Fantasia Film Festival, is a self-titled sado-erotic giallo. For those of you who don’t know (and I didn’t either) a giallo is sort of like a novel-noir — a mystery/crime/violence/pulp novel that comes from Italy of the 20’s. Gialli, so called for the yellow of their original covers, grew to include movies with extended murder scenes and excessive bloodletting but with stylish camera work and music.

Saliba’s third film pretty much fits the giallo bill; twelve minutes of stylish, well-composed stills set to at times whimsical, at times disturbing tracks. “She Was Asking For It” tells the story of one man’s revenge on two women who seduced, beat and raped him. Of course he hunts them down and kills them in excruciating and savage ways seeking a kind of twisted poetic justice by raping the first with a dildo and nailing the other to a wall with the same dildo.

But what threw me off was the tonal difference between the rape of the man and the murder of the women. Perhaps it was the challenge of the gender-reversal or the choice to keep the beginning rape scene pristine, devoid of body fluids or blood, divorcing it from the realities of such a situation but the kidnapping and rape felt more like a fantasy sequence or an extended masturbation scenario in which the man, although passive and abused, was none the less a willing participant to these two dominatrix.

The murder of the women, full of blood, spit and even vomit, had an intensity and a sincerity that seemed to come from a far deeper and darker place than the wounds of a victim of rape.

Both scenes are quite successful but watch for the difference when you go and see its world premier when it opens for another Canadian premiere, “Silent Screams” at this the 11th edition of Fantasia, North America’s Premiere Genre Film Festival.

Other films that sound like fun at the Fest: “Wonder Woman, Balance of Power” part of the Square Jaw Theatre; “Escalator to Heaven” and “2 minutes” two Korean films part of the Beyond Genres of Korean Short Films. I’m also going to check out “Caress” by Mendel Hardeman from the Netherlands. And to make sure your Karma is well aligned, you should check out some of the 80 short films from Quebec artists.

Fantasia runs from July 5th to 23rd, has over 100 feature films from 25 countries and last year attracted more than 77 000 guests. for more info.
“She Was Asking For It” July 12th, 9:40pm at the DB Clarke Theatre.

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