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Movie Review: Scrapbook – Filth Or Horror?

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Scrapbook is an extreme and harrowing film that required over 19 minutes of cuts on its U.K release, which I should imagine would make the film a complete mess and make it difficult to grasp what the film is trying to say.

Scrapbook is pieced together from various real events that were researched over a five-year period by the writer and co-star Tommy Biondo, who unfortunately died before the film's eventual release. This was a great shame because despite the lurid subject matter, it is a brave, bold, and exceptionally well played film.

Biondo plays Leonard, who kidnaps his victims and then proceeds to mentally and physically torture them and keep mementos, notes, and photos in his scrapbook. He truly believes that when he finishes the book, he will become a celebrity and appear on talk shows. His determination is infallible.

Clara (a bravura piece of acting from Emily Haack) is his latest victim, and the first time we see her, she is tied up in the back of a parked van next to a disemboweled body. This is no ordinary glamorous Hollywood take on serial killers. This is as unflinchingly raw as you can get. It is shot on video and takes place mainly in two rooms. The camera pays close attention to Clara's face and this framing device cranks up the claustrophobia to the max.

Now to the aforementioned subject matter. Clara is raped three times in the movie and in one scene is brutally sodomised and the film pulls no punches in showing this. It is extremely upsetting and frighteningly realistic yet it is never exploitative. This is enforced when Clara accepts Leonard sexually but he shows his true colours when he fails to get an erection.

Why does she accept him? Despite being seemingly weak, she realises that by writing in Leonard's scrapbook she can emotionally manipulate him as this is the one area where he is obviously at his weakest.

The film is as much about female empowerment as it is about man's callous approach to life. Where he uses brute force and power, she uses guile and cunning. There can only be one survivor and the climax is both surprising and powerful.

Although it's a low budget film and is definitely not easy to watch, it's also a highly charged piece of work and psychologically complex enough for you to appreciate the effort of all involved.

I will reiterate that it is raw filmmaking and it is something that I personally will not let my partner see. You have been warned.

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