29 needles | scott philip goergens | brooke berry | jamee nicholson | joe meduza | torture | body horror | nightmares film festival | nff | united states | ryoko h. | timothy o'rork | barbi satin | cory sellgren | emily sienicki | hunter smith | kittie valentine
Film: 29 Needles
Director: Scott Philip Goergens
Writer: Scott Philip Goergens
Starring: Brooke Berry, Jamee Nicholson and Joe Meduza
The film that ended the longest night of 2019’s Nightmares Film Festival and was the world premiere of it as well. I knew from my experience in the year before, the 2am showing was going to be trippy and weird. This did not disappoint. I actually was sitting in the same row as the writer/director Scott Philip Goergens as well as the star Brooke Berry. The synopsis is a psycho-sexual body horror which follows Francis Bacon (Berry), a very disturbed man with an obsession for pain and sex.
We start this with some graphic images of Timothy O’Rork, wrapped in chains and masturbating. At the point of climax, the semen falls on to someone who is being stood on by O’Rork, who is known as Demon.
It then shifts to the present. Francis gets a call to come over and that leads him to Dorothea (Ryoko H.). They have an agreement which is him receiving anal sex from a woman with a strap-on. Things take a turn though when he pulls out a knife, causing Dorothea to freak out.
Francis is into pain when it comes to the pleasure that he’s seeking. He frequents bars where for the most part, he ignores the advances of others as he knows they can’t give what he’s looking for. We see this happen when he rapes another man that takes him home, humiliating him and proving he wasn’t ready.
That is until he encounters Hans (Jamee Nicholson). Their conversation doesn’t start off smooth, but it seems that Hans is part of a secret club where you can pretty much find any type of pleasure you’re looking for. This intrigues Francis and he joins him there. He already was on the path to dark, sexual things, but this takes him even farther into a nightmare that involves pain, pleasure, hallucinations and extreme forms of sex.
This is actually another one that is hard to recap as the story itself doesn’t have the most layers, but there’s quite a bit of symbolism and social commentary here. I was completely exhausted and a bit delusional when the star asked me if I liked it. At the time, I needed to go to sleep and reflect on it, but to be honest, now that I have, I did like this in a sick kind of way.
I won’t drop spoilers here, but I do want to unwrap some of what I saw. The first thing is that it makes sense why Francis is the way he is in the movie. He was graphically abused in a way that involved pleasure at a younger age and it damaged him. There’s a reveal in the credits that when I saw it, it floored me and also makes a ton of sense. We keep seeing images of Demon throughout this film and near the end, we see his chains coming off him. I took this as Francis has finally found what he’s looking for so he’s freeing himself.
We get to see a lot of extreme sexual acts in this as well. I personally am only slightly into this for myself, but no where near the extremes we see here. I did like that Francis takes someone who thinks they are and then humiliates them to prove a point. When he gets into the club though, he feels at home. We even see that once he’s down this path, he needs more of it and more extremes, which includes sticking needles underneath his scrotum and breaking them off. It was pretty wild and made me cringe.
Not to derail this, but I should probably shift to the effects since I’m starting down it. Two friends that I hung out with at the festival asked me my thoughts on this one. I told them that I didn’t really know what I thought at the time, but I could say was that the effects looked so real that I thought some of them might be. I saw that Georgens actually found people who were into more extreme sexual acts in real life and casted them. I do wonder how much of what we saw was real and wasn’t. I have to commend him if your effects are that good. The film also has a grainy look to it which just makes it feel that much more real so I give him a lot of credit for that.
I want to move this to the pacing of the film, which has a run time of 95 minutes. That’s a good runtime as I don’t know how much more I could’ve taken that night. It really doesn’t waste any time in establishing things. We get graphic images to start, we establish his lifestyle and then it starts down the dark path. Something else was the movie likes to linger longer than it should on conversations which made me feel comfortable. With how graphic it gets, I think that was on purpose so I give credit for that. I did like how this ended as well, since it was fitting for how bleak this is overall.
Moving next to the acting, I have to give a lot of credit to Berry. They did an excellent job in this role and really put everything out there. I don’t want to be insensitive so if you end up reading this I apologize, but in the film they’re portraying a man where I think now they’re transgender. I’m sorry if I’m coming off ignorant since I was too exhausted that night to pick your brain. Regardless, I thought the performance was one of the best in all the films I saw at the festival. Nicholson and Ryoko were both really good in support as were the rest of cast, they rounded out for what the film needed.
The last thing to cover would be the soundtrack. I thought it was perfect if I’m going to be honest and one of the best that I heard. It really helped to create such an eerie vibe for this film which worked. I’d be honest that I would actually seek this out to add to my collection of music I write to.
Now with that said, this is not a movie for everyone. It is such a sad and haunting tale of how abuse can affect someone for the rest of their lives. It is an amazing performance from Berry. There’s not a lot to the story, but there’s some deeper issues underneath what we are seeing for sure. The effects in this are amazing to the point where I questioned what was real and what wasn’t. I also like the grainy look which helps to create even more sense of realism. I think the pacing is fine, it does a great job at building tension and making me cringe with a bleak ending. The soundtrack was also really good and fit for what was needed. Overall I’d say this is a good film, but it’s not for everyone. Definitely be prepared for how graphic is this, but if you can handle that, there’s a sad and dark tale here for sure.
My Rating: 8 out of 10