Edinburgh International Film Festival

H6: Diary of an Assassin (2005)

Starring: Fernando Acaso, Antonio Mayans, Ruperto Ares, María José Bausá, Ramón del Pomar

Directed by: Martin Garrido Barón

Rating: 1 2 and a half

H6: Diary of an Assassin. Approach this film with caution...

Aside from the fact that it's a nauseatingly gruesome horror movie, H6: Diary of an Assassin is a typically Spanish drama. Our horrid, swarthy, unlikeable hero, Antonio, is a self-obsessed, self-delusional, selfish male, whose narcissism and inability to see women as anything other than soiled, passive objects make him completely incapable of forming any kind of meaningful relationship with the opposite sex. Like Jamon Jamon or Golden Balls, H6 is a study of one man's attempts to exert his masculinity in an uncertain world. Only in Antonio's case, once he's finished aggressively sexually abusing the women around him, he chops them up into pieces using a chainsaw and stores them in the freezer.

The film begins with Antonio murdering his girlfriend, Soledad, a crime for which he is jailed for 25 years. When he finally emerges from prison, he believes he's learned his lesson - no more impulsive, uncontrolled killings for him. This time, he'll know exactly what he's doing.

And when an aunt dies, leaving him a vast, run down, creepy guesthouse in a thoroughly unsavoury neighbourhood, he finds the perfect venue for his 'sacrifices' to take place. And so 'Pension Paradiso' (and never has a hotel been lass aptly named) becomes a slickly run slaughterhouse for prostitutes, drug addicts and any other hapless women who happen to cross his path.

To be honest, I really didn't like this film. Comedy so black it could suck up a spaceship and scenes of torture so upsettingly hardcore and unwatchable they make Hostel look like an episode of 'Allo 'Allo, are strung uncomfortably together by tired horror clichés we've all seen before. The serial killer who carves up his victims while listening to Mozart, then serves them up with a nice chianti? C'mon!

And then there's the fact that this film is horrifically misogynistic. Okay, so we're seeing the world filtered though Antonio's warped gaze, but I still found there was something unnecessarily one-dimensional and offensive about the sorry cavalcade of junkies, prostitutes and slappers, each as stupid, gullible, greedy and desperate as the last, that represent womankind in this film.

There are occasional flashes of brilliance to be found - in particular, in the rare moments when his female victims are given a voice - but I wouldn't say these moments compensate for the gruelling, distinctly uncomfortable experience that is sitting through H6. If you liked Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer or American Psycho, you might find merit in this movie, but to be honest, I don't see much to recommend it - and I was one of the few people who didn't walk out. Congratulations, Martin Garrido Barón: you've made a horror film I couldn't stomach. I rather wish you hadn't.

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