Anarchy Parlor (2014)…An Unfulfilling Tale of Skin & Suffering

Torture porn…don’t you just hate that term?

It implies that someone, somewhere, gets off on watching people suffer excruciating torment, and although that may be true, I prefer to think that most horror fans are only trying to test our limits when watching flicks like Hostel (which I loved), Turistas (meh) and The Human Centipede (which I hated).

Anarchy Parlor is the latest addition to the horror sub-genre, but this time instead of insane German surgeons, organ harvesting Brazilians or wealthy human hunters (of various backgrounds), the antagonist is an American tattoo artist inexplicably living in Lithuania.

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Side Note: I think the villain is meant to be Lithuanian, and regardless of the fact that I know nothing of the language or accent, I’m pretty sure the native peoples of that particular Northern European country don’t sound like they’re from Brooklyn…but heck, suspend your disbelief while watching.

The tattoo artist, here cleverly called “The Artist”, is played by seriously underrated performer (and Brooklyn native) Robert LaSardo, an actor who does get to flex his acting muscles a little more than usual in Anarchy Parlor. It’s nice to see him in a role other than that of a prisoner or a thug, but the script is weak at best, and doesn’t exactly give the man a lot to work with, but LaSardo does his best to flesh out The Artist.

Still, despite his efforts, this thoroughly inked bad guy is a fairly one dimensional villain who skins unsuspecting tourists in order to use their skin as canvas…sort of like Silence of the Lambs, if Buffalo Bill had been a painter and Silence of the Lambs had been a terrible movie…so really nothing at all like Silence of the Lambs.

Ahem…moving on.

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Like its predecessors, Parlor is full of the run of the mill staples of this particular genre, including an unbelievably convoluted storyline, an unnecessary amount of nudity (all female, natch) and my personal favorite part of any torture flick, a bevy of characters so deeply unlikable (some American, some British) its almost impossible to care about what the hell happens to them. And you won’t care what happens to the victims of The Artist, and lets face it, we all know how these types of movies play out, and in that aspect, Anarchy Parlor doesn’t disappoint…although I gotta admit, at this stage and after everything I’ve seen in previous, more visceral films, Parlor seems pretty tame by comparison.

Come on, when you’ve seen one person skinned alive, you’ve seen them all…wow, I can’t believe I just wrote that.

Anyway, I’m actually pretty bummed about this one, because I really wanted to like this debut film by directors Devon Downs and Kenny Gage. The concept is fascinating, to say the least, and the trailer made the flick seem epic when I first saw it months ago, not to mention the casting of LaSardo in a leading role, even if the idea of the evil, tattooed villain has been done to death and is really just incredibly behind the times. Is it too much to ask for an extensively tattooed hero once in a while?

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Well, hero or villain, LaSardo is the only bright point of this disappointing flick…well, him and the country itself. If the areas where the film was shot are any indication, Lithuania looks like a gorgeous, historically rich place to visit.

Otherwise, fans of the odd bit of suffering will probably find something to enjoy in Anarchy Parlor, but the movie does nothing to breathe new life into the genre, and as such, you’re probably better off sticking to the good ol’ torture classics and re-watching Hostel 2 instead.

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