Amy’s in the Attic: Kinky and Brutal Tribute to Sleazy European Exploitation

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Amy’s in the Attic (2010)
Written and Directed by Matthew Saliba
http://www.facebook.com/sinema.saliba
http://www.myspace.com/matthewsaliba

I’m a little concerned. I just finished the full 23 minutes of Amy’s in the Attic, Matthew’s Saliba’s depraved tribute to European exploitation, and I was disappointed when it ended. It concludes with a bruised and bloody young woman confined to a tiny cage, an image I should have been relieved to see fade to black. However, the sick bastard inside me was left wanting more. This is one of those moments where I find myself wondering if there’s something wrong with me. I mean, I know that if I’d come across her situation in real life, I certainly wouldn’t cheer for more. I’d be repulsed and outraged. So why does a relatively nice guy like me seek out disturbing and violent movies? Well, it’s because Matthew Saliba gets them so right, and I may even be able to learn a little about myself by watching.

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Under the moniker of his production company Sinema Saliba, Montreal’s Matthew Saliba has been churning out sexually-charged subversive films over the past decade. With films like The Manipulator and the Subservient, Pandora’s Paradox, and the “Dark Lotus” portion of Frankenstein Unlimited, he delivers provocative films in beautifully shot packages. It’s clear that he wants to push your buttons, but at the same time shares a love of beauty with all the taboo imagery. It’s a fair compromise because you can tell yourself you’re in it for the art when you might actually be in it for the perversity. In these forbidden worlds, Saliba is your guide. You can jump off anytime, but I bet you’ll stay on board until the last stop.  

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(Is it the sillhouette of a man or demon?)
Taking inspiration from a number of 60’s and 70’s classic Giallo films, as well as cues from sleazy grindhouse era exploitation, Saliba’s latest offering is a short but effective tribute. It’s a film that clearly has tongue planted firmly in cheek, but doesn’t stop it from  becoming an endurance test. It’s a world populated by beautiful women with dark secrets and dashing, dangerous men. If you’re familiar with these types of films, you’ll see tributes all over the place from jarring jump cuts leaving out crucial dialogue, to cheesy sub-titles, to the overstated acting. Saliba even starts the film with a disclaimer proclaiming that portions of the film have been reconstructed in Italian with English subtitles in order to deliver an uncut print. The strengths of the film rest on Saliba getting all those details just right in a way that is more homage than self-referential parody. Most of all, the film is truly sleazy and I guarantee you will feel icky watching it.

Six bored frenemies spend an alcohol-infused evening insulting each other to stave off boredom. At the suggestion of Alucard (played by Saliba), they agree to participate in a game in which one of them is randomly chosen to be a “slave”. The loser must submit to every command of the group, a seemingly harmless affair at first. Amy (the excellent Kayden Rose) is chosen as the slave and voluntarily endures hours of degradation, humiliation, and violence. How far will the group go? More importantly, how far will Amy let them go? It is just a game after all, isn’t it? A night of escalating debauchery pushes everyone over the edge into a darkness from which no one may recover.

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(Does this brief moment of regret look familiar?)

Special note needs to be given to the superb cinematography of DP Kamel Khalifa. Even though it was shot in HD, the film looks like it was produced on 16mm with vivid red and yellows really standing out. The decision to process the digital footage with a filter was a good call to give it the appropriate “film” look. There are some truly stunning shots throughout the film including the ominous silhouette of a shadowy presence, a building bathed in red that looks straight out of an Argento piece, and the noir-ish lighting of the attic. There is also some clever editing despite perceived limitations in sticking with the expected sensibilities of cheap exploitation. The set design is also spectacular with the type of adorned furniture you’d expect to find in the homes of 60’s and 70’s well-to-do people. There is also an excellent soundtrack including a very appropriate Donovan tune. Clearly, the production team was committed to delivering an authentic ode to the era, and succeeded highly.

According the Saliba, a feature length version of Amy’s in the Attic is in pre-production. I’m certainly interested to see what direction he’ll take in building upon the challenging foundation he started here. It’s definitely worth a watch even if Eurotrash cinema isn’t your thing.

Amy’s in the Attic Trailer

Mike Snoonian

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since 2009 Mike has written about independent horror, science fiction, cult and thrillers through his own blog All Things Horror along with various other spots on the web. Film Thrills marks his attempt to take things up a notch, expand his viewing and writing horizons and to entertain and engage his audience while doing so. When Mike's not writing or watching movies, you can find him reading to his little girl, or doing science experiments with her, or trying to convince her that the term "chicken butt" comes from people putting chicken nuggets down their underwear. at age five, she's too smart to believe most of what he says.

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