H6 review, H6 DVD review

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Buy your copy from Amazon.com H6: Diary of a Serial Killer (2004) starhalf starno starno starno star Starring: Fernando Acaso, María José Bausá, Raquel Arenas
Director: Martín Garrido Barón
Rating: NR
Category: Horror

With movies like “Hostel” and “Saw” making a, um, killing at the box-office lately, it’s no surprise that other studios want to get in on the action. That can be the only explanation for Tartan Videos’ bizarre self-produced hype for “H6: Diary of a Serial Killer,” an only slightly off-putting serial killer flick packaged as a gore-filled slaughterfest. And while there are some macabre and disgusting moments to be had in “H6,” most of the movie does little to separate itself from the dozens of other above-average horror flicks currently flooding video store shelves.

“H6” begins strong though, as the camera voyeuristically spies on a couple arguing about the girlfriend’s supposed infidelity. Antonio (Fernando Acaso), the girl’s boyfriend, slaps her around a bit in a rage and she threatens to leave him for good, so he kills her. Things quickly flash forward to the man’s prison release many years later. Within days of his release, he moves into an old guesthouse that he inherited from his aunt (that once doubled as a brothel) and quickly marries a woman he met from a dating service. While his wife works nights as a nurse (and not-so-quietly continues her affair with a married doctor) Antonio does some remodeling in the old brothel, specifically focusing on room number 6, which he equips with a steel table (complete with straps) and plastic-coated walls. And before you can say “don’t go in the house,” he has girls doing exactly that, luring desperate junkies and hookers into his room of death where he brutally tortures, rapes and eventually kills them all in the name of “cleansing” them for the afterlife.

The torture and murder scenes in “H6” try to be shocking and graphic, but are actually fairly tame when compared to “Saw”and “Hostel,” and they’re even tamer than many of the death scenes you might find in a “Nightmare on Elm Street” or “Friday The 13th” movie. Most of the goriest acts are done off-camera (we’re only treated to some blood splatter) and there aren’t even that many of them (he only kills four people on-camera, including his girlfriend in the opening scene.) While I’m not a fan of the new torture subgenre of horror that is currently in fashion, if a movie is going to advertise and market itself as one, then it better deliver the goods. Anyone watching “H6” expecting a “Devil’s Rejects” level of sex and violence is going to be really bummed out.

If you’re hoping for some interesting character and story development instead of gore-a-plenty, then you’re in for disappointment as well. We never delve into Antonio’s psyche to find out what triggered this sudden change from hot-tempered jealous boyfriend to cold-blooded sociopath, and we also never get a glimpse of his regular day-to-day life when he’s not offing the random whore and pimp. As a villain, Antonio is pretty one-dimensional, and any attempts to give him depth (such as the diary scenes from which the film gets its title) are complete failures.

And while we’re on the subject of the diary: Antonio writes in it early on that his desire to chronicle everything he does to all his victims, in detail, is inspired by the diary of Henri Landru, a real-life killer who murdered 10 women in post-World War I France. According to Antonio, Landru kept a detailed chronicle of everything in his life, including his vicious murders. The real Landru did nothing of the sort, though, and in reality his journal documented nothing but minor details such as train tickets and other financial information (though that information did lead to his eventual conviction). Landru never even admitted killing any of the women for whose death he was convicted, and remained silent even as he was taken to the guillotine. Antonio, on the other hand, revels in what he hopes will be his eventual capture and guaranteed infamy, which is his primary reason for writing the journal. That is, until the ending of the film, where Antonio seems more content with hiding the true viciousness of his crimes in hopes of getting an insanity verdict instead of being found guilty.

The only vaguely interesting aspect of the film is his bizarre, nearly-loveless relationship with his wife. Their trip to her father’s house for her mother’s funeral is probably the only truly sick and disturbing scene in the movie. We get glimpses into her unhappy past and tawdry workplace affair throughout the film, and both storylines seem infinitely more interesting than the one we end up getting stuck with.

A guaranteed disappointment to nearly all kinds of horror fans, “H6”lacks the blood and guts to please the gorehounds out there and fails to provoke even one halfway decent scary scene out of its sex-crazed sadomasochist protagonist. Tartan should be ashamed of itself for marketing what it is in reality nothing more than a second-rate thriller to fans of hardcore horror, who will undoubtedly be incredibly disappointed by this uneventful and downright boring import from Spain.

DVD Review:
Not surprisingly, the features are pretty light here. There’s a quick 10-minute interview with Acaso and director Barón, as well as some trailers, but that’s about it. At least they left in the original Spanish audio track and didn’t try to replace it with an English dub. However, the subtitles are pathetically riddled with simple typos that actually make some scenes hard to follow. How the hell did they let that happen?

~James B. Eldred

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