August Underground (2001)

DVD Cover (Toe Tag Pictures)
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Overall Rating 35%
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Connections: August Underground

Imagine walking down the street and finding an unmarked VHS tape. Curiosity peaked, you take it home and pop it in. What starts off as two men screwing around with a video camera quickly transforms into an ultra-realistic torture sequence where the unidentified psychopaths tape their exploits as they torment and violate a woman tied to a chair. --TMDb
Kyle Dealman
Kyle Dealman
Casey Eganey
Casey Eganey
Dan Friedman
Dan Friedman
Alexa Iris
Alexa Iris
Victoria Jones
Victoria Jones
Review by Chad
Added: September 11, 2016
We got started a little late, but the missus and I decided to sit through the August Underground series throughout the month of, well, August. It is a sick and depraved series of movies from Toetag Pictures, and given my love for this kind of thing, it's a bit of a surprise that this is my first time popping in the original film in the series. I've already seen the other two, but I never got around to the original. Funny how that works out, sometimes, but they're making some amazing date night movies. There's nothing more romantic than watching a serial killer shove a woman's feces back into her own asshole, am I right? Ahem.

The film follows a cinéma vérité style of storytelling, meaning that we see everything that happens through the lens of an unidentified cameraman. This cameraman follows his buddy (Fred Vogel) around and records him torturing people, killing them, and yes, even getting lapdances from hookers. There's not much more to it: you either want to see what he does to his victims, or you don't. There's no deep storyline and there's no huge plot twist, we just kick back and watch the footage of a madman as he maims and dismembers innocent strangers. There is some other random footage inserted here and there to add a little depth to the characters, and some of it is even a little humorous (the religious statue scene comes to mind), but this is far from the selling point of the film.

I think that one of the huge things that the film has working in its favor is the mix of realism and amateurishness. It feels very amateurish, in that it legitimately feels like these are two random people carrying around a cheap camcorder and recording things... only, their "things" tend to be sadistic and depraved. There's even one scene where they try to figure out how to handle operating the camera while also torturing one of their victims. This doesn't seem like a movie with a script and actors, it feels like we're watching genuine footage and home movies.

Now, with that said, there is also a lot of realism to be found in the running time. From the simple things like punches and slaps, to the incredibly twisted things like a woman's nipple being cut off and numerous hammer blows to the head, almost all of it seems very real. It rarely appears that they're throwing fake punches or using prop hammers, which - given the nature of the movie - adds an incredible layer of realism and makes the entire thing that much more memorable. Love it or hate it, you will see things here that you will not forget.

August Underground is one of those cult movies that has a niche audience, that being people who simply want to watch some disturbing and "real" footage of people getting hacked to pieces. It's certainly not for everyone, but it accomplishes what it set out to do. It will disturb you and it will make you squirm, and if that's the sort of thing that you're looking for, you'll definitely find a lot to love here. The film would spawn two sequels and make a name out of filmmaker Fred Vogel, and deservedly so. 8/10.
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