Kiwi horror scares world
AT HOME there were attempts to ban Kiwi director David Blyth's latest horror film but abroad audiences are screaming out for it.
The 56-year-old Aucklander marks his return to the big screen on Tuesday after a 10-year absence with Wound, a movie featuring images of explicit violence and themes of incest and mental illness.
Last month Family First's Bob McCoskrie unsuccessfully tried to get the censor's office to ban the New Zealand International Film Festival flick despite never having seen it.
Internationally, Wound is getting a better reception and in coming weeks is to feature at some of the most prestigious scary movie festivals around including Montreal's Fantasia and London's premier horror film festival, Frightfest.
Controversy is nothing new for Blyth. The director's debut, Angel Mine, got conservatives up in arms in the 1970s and is still considered a groundbreaking film.
But Blyth said despite the gore Wound wasn't simply aimed at making the audience wince and scream. It dealt with serious social issues.
"I'm trying to deal with some of the big elephants in the room in this country. Why do we have such high rates of death amongst children? Why is Prozac being used across the country and what is the melancholy underneath the 100% pure image of New Zealand?" Blyth told Sunday News.
Wound, described as a "vengeful daughter searching for the mother who gave her up for dead after being abused by her own father", loosely parallels the Demeter and Persephone myth of Greek history. In that tale, Demeter travels to the underworld to rescue her daughter Persephone from underworld ruler Hades.
Blyth's version turns the story on its head.
"In my story, the daughter is coming back from hell to grab her mother and pull her down into hell as well – it deals with a lot of mother-daughter issues."
Drawing inspiration from some of his favourite film-maker, such as David Lynch and Luis Bunuel, Blyth said Wound was "running a torch over a woman's mind with all the broken shards exposed."
The film, which screens as part of the Incredibly Strange section of the New Zealand International Film Festival, is a real hit with that section's director, Ant Timpson.
"It is the work of an intelligent and honest film-maker who by no planned design finds himself an outlaw artist, destined to shoot his personal nightmares without a thought towards the usual conformist handicaps others face," he said about Blyth's work.
"Wound is an angry nightmare, hellbent on waking up the proletariat and spitting it right in its eye."
Timpson said for the reasons some found Wound distasteful, it deserved to be cinematically celebrated.
Wound was made over 12 shooting days in January, in the Auckland suburb of Avondale, where it's set. It cost less than $100,000 to make and was independently funded.
"State-sponsored films are a kind of propaganda", Blyth said.
Timpson calls this approach: "A two-finger salute right up the backside of most of the dreary television released that is known as NZ cinema."
Wound screens Tuesday, July 20 at Skycity cinema in Auckland.