How do you write a review on a film as ambiguous, bleak, and experimental as Begotten? It’s like trying to understand every nuance of a David Lynch film; it just isn’t going to be fully comprehended. Begotten is a piece of art. An extremely graphic and grotesque piece of art. Visual and performance art can be interpreted in a million different ways but there is no denying that this performance is truly shocking and original.
The basic premise is as follows…
(WARNING: It is extremely vile, upsetting, and offensive. Proceed with caution.)
In the story, a god uses a straight razor to disembowel himself and dies. Mother Earth comes along, and recognizing his godhood, uses his corpse to get pregnant, and gives birth to a son. Son of Earth and Mother Earth are then captured and adulterated by a clan of cannibalistic creatures.
Phew. Ok. Now we are past the hard part. Just writing down the synopsis creates a pit in my stomach. This movie is harder to talk about than A Serbian Film! Discussing my opinions on the film is a lot easier. So let’s move forward.
Without the plot background it would be hard to understand what the hell is going on in this disgusting film. There is zero dialogue and the whole movie is in grainy black and white footage. (Think: Eraserhead.) Begotten is notorious for being one of the most gruesome films ever made, and I believe it lives up to its reputation, even if it moves at a snail-like pace.
The stills and screenshots from this movie found online are sometimes more frightening than the actual footage, which feels a little too drawn out. I personally think that this would have fared better as a short film, even though it is already relatively short at 72 minutes. While it is hard to discern what is on screen at times with its telltale grainy footage, its ability to deceive and confuse makes it feel like a horrible nightmare with images that are burned into the back of your retinas. I’m sure I’ll have great dreams tonight.
If you can look past the horrid imagery, you can see the director is giving a transcendent meditation on creation, from death and rebirth and death again. It hard to believe this is from the same filmmaker who brought us Shadow of the Vampire. Though there are probably very few people who actually enjoy this film, it can be appreciated for its artistic and stylized approach to filmmaking, taking us as far from mainstream cinema as it gets.
Begotten is probably one of the rarest films for horror collectors to get their hands on. Even though you can watch pretty much anything on YouTube nowadays, there is something special about possessing a hardcopy that only collectors can understand. While I am proud to own this film, I will probably NEVER watch it again. Some rare movies are rare for a reason, and it is easy to understand why in this case.
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