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Donkey Punch (Magnet Releasing, R)

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donkey-punch_sm.jpgDonkey Punch is little more than a well-paced thriller with some gratuitous nudity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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An import from the U.K., Donkey Punch does little to add to the slasher/thriller genre but is an entertaining film nevertheless. Co-writer and director Oliver Blackburn has crafted a moderately engaging film that falters because it never decides what kind of picture it wants to be. While what takes place over the course of the film does keep the audience's attention, it fails to accomplish most of what it set out to do.

The film begins by following three friends from England on holiday in Spain. Kim (Jamie Winstone) and Lisa (Sian Breckin) are true party girls, while Tammi (Nichola Burley) is more quiet and reticent to join in the fun. Kim and Lisa must constantly push Tammi to engage in whatever activity they are doing. The girls meet a group of guys at a bar and after a short time decide to join them on their yacht to continue the party. Copious amounts of drugs and alcohol are consumed and, after a short conversation about crude sexual acts, the shipmates begin to split up.

Tammi and Sean (Robert Boulter) stay above ship, talking about innocent topics such as past relationships, while Kim and Lisa join Bluey (Tom Burke), Marcus (Jay Taylor) and Josh (Julian Morris) below deck for more R-rated action. With a video camera rolling, all inhibitions fly out the portholes. Very quickly, the scene turns from sexy to frightening as an accident throws all the characters into more dire circumstances than any had anticipated. Very soon, the characters are all showing their true colors and all sense of security and safety is lost.

Blackburn, for his part, does a very good job balancing action and tension once the story becomes darker and the characters evolve from young, carefree partiers to people trying to survive in an isolated location. In the first half hour of the movie, Blackburn does little to show off his talents as a director. The camerawork is taken straight from MTV Spring Break and the character development is practically nonexistent.

The script from Blackburn and co-writer David Bloom, however, is a fascinating study on human behavior and survival instincts. Immediately after the accident takes place, teams are formed and it seems clear where the characters' allegiance and trust lies. These adjust quickly and frequently, as the situations and circumstances change from minute to minute. The script is well written and the dialogue never seems forced or unnecessary; the characters say only what they need to and no more.

All of the young actors are sufficient in their performances. We believe that they are each forced into doing whatever they have to in order to survive and none rely on stock performances to get them through. There are no blood-curdling screams, no grandiose speeches, no clichéd characters. In fact, it would be hard to say who the "bad guy" really is, since each is guilty in one way or another. This is thanks to the script as much to the actors' performances which lead the audience to sympathize with each at various times.

Donkey Punch is little more than a well-paced thriller with some gratuitous nudity thrown in for fun. Many will compare it to the great dark comedy Very Bad Things, and the comparisons will come easily. But where that film focuses on the humor that comes out of a terrible situation, Donkey Punch identifies the behavior in which people are willing to engage in order to save themselves. | Matthew F. Newlin

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