On “Torture Porn”

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Rachel Corbett writes at Women’s Enews:

When the movie “Hostel” raked in $19 million on its debut weekend and gripped the No. 1 spot for a week in 2005, some critics heralded the comeback of horror, which had been in a box office slump for a decade.

But to others, the film’s shocking violence and grisly torture scenes marked the beginning of a descent into a subgenre that New York magazine film critic David Edelstein dubbed “torture porn.”

Women have long borne the brunt of on-screen terrorizing says Jill Soloway, a consulting producer of ABC’s TV show “Dirty Sexy Money.” But she says the difference is the element of torture in movies that followed “Hostel,” such as “Captivity,” which prompted a storm of criticism for its graphic ads. …

… Critics like Soloway see a connection between the dearth of women in Hollywood and torture porn.

In 2007, only 7 percent of the Screen Directors Guild’s members were female; no woman has ever won an Academy Award for best director; and the horror, fantasy and action genres have the smallest fraction of female directors.

“Men are making films and calling them feminist when they don’t understand the feminine experience,” Soloway said. “It’s their salute to how they see female power.”

A few months ago, Horvath said she began receiving calls from publicists pitching the new film, “P2,” to NOW as a critical look at violence against women, and she attended the premiere.

“Essentially I watched an hour and 45 minutes of a woman being stalked, drugged, nearly raped and terrorized,” she said. In the end, the character escapes and kills her attacker. “It’s like as long as the woman kills the guy at the end, then of course it’s a female empowerment movie.” …

Read the whole thing here.

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