Lest ye think that Mondo Macabro has cornered the market on Turkish Horror, heed this: Turkish Horror is alive and well, er ... it's alive, anyway, with Pathfinder Home Entertainment's release of the delicately titled The Abortion from 2006. Yes, there's more to that country's output than mottled vampires, flaming swords and glowing alligator people from the mid-'80s, but based on this one offering, that's not a good thing. Hopefully further exploration will reveal better films than this ham-handedly moralistic, ultra-derivative, style-is-not-enough (but that's all we got) er ... abortion of a movie.
Dancer Eda (the beautiful Akasya Asilturkmen) makes the painful decision to terminate her pregnancy even though she's hit week 16. Subtitle mystery-meat makes it unclear who the father is, the person she claims is her uncle (who's been shtupping her behind her boyfriend's back) or is the father her boyfriend Cenk (Murat Yildirim)? If the former, one can readily understand why she might opt for the comically sleazy side-alley surgical procedure. On the other hand, Cenk is a bit of a drip, so who knows? Anyway, after about three years, her daughter-that-wasn't finally gets around to haunting her and the real horror tries to begin.
But don't hold a Grudge if your Pulse doesn't quicken, and don't worry about that One Missed Call you pass up, waiting for some scares. You'll mostly wonder why Biray Dalkiran throws his hat into the Ring half a decade too late for anyone to care. That's right, while The Abortion isn't biding time as a lethargic melodrama, or making sure that every shot is a neo-arty, MTV-styled exercise in needless artifice, it's trotting out a bunch of home-computer-generated pseudo-scares that shamelessly mimic every J-Horror film to ever float down the pike.
When not made up to look like King Diamond, Eda's not-born daughter is rather cute, (strike one on the scares) otherwise - get your J-horror lists ready kids - she's running a phantom hand through mom's hair, or hovering over her bed, or whisping by in the background of a web-cam scene. You get the idea. Sadly, most of these effects might have elicited a shudder in the shut-in who's never seen a horror movie, but even that viewer would note that more sophisticated SPFX tools these days come bundled with iLife. Remaining are endless angled and tilted shots of clean looking buildings with super-imposed clouds rushing by, Matrix-type fast-mo/ slow-mo editing, overwrought melodrama and an unmistakable pro-life message that promises only a lake of fire for those who disagree.
Even with that pedigree, a few true horrors sneak through, like scenes of the little phantom dragging a fetus through the graveyard, (not scary but surely pushing the limits) or worse, the abortion sequence itself, which is inter-cut with an abysmal dance performance set to a disco version of Pachelbel's Cannon. I rest my case.
The Abortion is delivered in 16 x 9 anamorphic widescreen, and looks decent. It gets a bit digital here and there, (so many crisp edges and angles to deal with!) with a tiny bit of edge-enhancement betraying not the greatest job of mastering. It's not horrible by any means, just something else to remove you from any hope of being scared or enjoying yourself. Colors also end up on the super-stylized scale (natch) with everything either a gloomy green, lemony, suffocating yellow or blasted bluish hue. Actually, the color design is one of the highlights of the movie, especially the reliance on those damned yellows- when did such a cheery color ever look so grim?
It is uncertain what type of audio processing is used, no indication is made on the packaging. It all sounds fine, except for that other nagging negative I forgot to mention in the review, which is that way-too-many scenes are replete with awful, insistent, intrusive and mood-destroying Turkish Techno, atmospheric pop compositions and the like. I quite liked the Disco-Spook-Show title sequence tune, but that tune's lesser siblings are left to run rampant over the rest of the film. Many might like these songs (I'm not a Middle East pop music scholar) but they sure do overwhelm the movie.
A two-minute Trailer claims that The Abortion was inspired by a true story. Watch it and skip the movie, you'll save plenty of time. A two-page Biography of the director shows the The Abortion is his first feature, and that the title might better have been translated as Purgatory. A four-minute Music Video also does quite a good job of pointing up that my Western tastes have no right even coming close to anything on this disc - that is, I really didn't like it (but I wouldn't like to mess with the peroxide-mohawked singer, either). A self-navigated Stills Gallery has about ten shots from the feature and an equal number of behind-the-scenes stills. Brief Trailers for six other Pathfinder Entertainment genre releases are also available, as well as 12 Chapter Stops and Removable English Subtitles.
At some point the peripatetic reviewer has to ask himself; "do I just not get it because I'm not Turkish?" Even with that in mind, I know The Scary, and The Abortion - by and large - lacks it. And I know derivative, which The Abortion has in spades (not that there's anything wrong with drawing inspiration from a certain genre, you just have to make it your own). I also know when an over-reliance on style swamps a movie, which is readily apparent in this case. Performances? Who knows? To my eyes, they seem soap opera-y, which is the final nail (one of many) in the coffin for this Western reviewer. I hate to bring the hammer down so hard on The Abortion, but I must call them as I see them, and wish all the best to those who made this movie. Keep trying, guys! For you all, this movie might sound so-bad-it's-good, but it's a slow, unrewarding bad, so you'd better just Skip It.
- Kurt Dahlke
~ More of Dahlke's DVD Talk reviews here at DVD Talk I'm not just a writer, I paint colorful, modern abstracts, too! Check them out here KurtDahlke.com