A wife drinks and tries to take a phone away from her husband. His mistress is on the other end. Their teenage son watches them wrestle on the floor, then sees his father eating dinner, then having sex with his younger mistress in a car. So does the wife. Mommy dearest sees her son masturbating, tries to cut her husband’s penis off, then, when he fights her off, cuts her own son’s penis off. Then eats it. Feeling squeamish? That’s just for the first ten minutes of Moebius.
Korean writer/director Ki-duk Kim has won seemingly every award in Asia and a healthy few in Europe, including the Un Certain Regard honors in the 2011 Cannes, and a staggering ten wins at Venice. The man is a respected auteur across the seas; here, in America, his Moebius lands him more decidedly in a sadomasochistic torture porn subgenre of art-house pictures.
Kim’s cinematography is consciously low-rent, with a handheld, unlit quality that makes the whole film feel beyond low-budget. It could have been shot for nothing with unknowns and most audiences wouldn’t feel the difference. The narrative focus remains on the perversions of misguided appetite, with not just one, but two penises being removed by the credits. Forgive the spoilers, but the mistress befriends the son, who struggles to have a sexual identity after losing his manhood. She is then gang-raped, the son is arrested for the crime, until his missing part exonerates him. The son is nearly raped in prison, the father discovers sadomasochism, the son and mistress avenge themselves by cutting the lead rapist’s penis off, and the wife/mother returns home to feast on the suffering she has created.
If you’re not sold on the film’s art-house qualities yet, all of this depraved debauchery unfolds without dialogue. The film is disturbingly voiceless, save the guttural articulations of pleasure and pain. The film wil undoubtedly reach cult status for some, but the mainstream audience shouldn’t think this is a black comedy or horror film. It’s more akin to The Human Centipede for content and value: little and none.
DVD BONUS FEATURES
Do you really want more? Interviews with the director and lead actress, along with a Q&A from the New York Asian Film Festival.
"Moebius" is on sale October 28, 2014 and is not rated. Foreign, Horror. Directed by Kim Ki Duk. Written by Kim Ki-Duk. Starring Young Ju Seo.