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Evil in film and other criticisms.

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Kevin Gage, bloody nipple remnant.On the topic of exploitation films…the makers of "Chaos" respond to Roger Ebert’s zero-star review of the film, and he writes back. We feel like by doing this he’s assigning far too much power and meaning to what’s essentially a shoddily acted C-movie that tries twice to get you to walk out of the theater, but some interesting points are made. The filmmakers:

Natalie Holloway. Kidnappings and beheadings in Iraq shown on the internet. Wives blasting jail guards with shotguns to free their husbands. The confessions of the BTK killer, These are events of the last few months. How else should filmmakers address this "ugly, nihilistic and cruel" reality — other than with scenes that are "ugly, nihilistic and cruel," to use the words you used to describe "Chaos."

Mr. Ebert, would you prefer it if instead we exploit these ugly, nihilistic and cruel events by sanitizing them, like the PG13 horror films do, or like the cable networks do, to titillate and attract audiences without exposing the real truth, the real evil?

Mr. Ebert, how do you want 21st Century evil to be portrayed in film and in the media? Tame and sanitized? Titillating and exploitive? Or do you want evil portrayed as it really is? "Ugly, nihilistic and cruel," as you say our film does it?

We tried to give you and the public something real. Real evil exists and cannot be ignored, sanitized or exploited. It needs to be shown just as it is, which is why we need this s—t, to use your own coarse words. And if this upsets you, or "disquiets" you, or leaves you "saddened," that’s the point. So instead of telling the public to avoid this film, shouldn’t you let them make their own decision?

Whoa, boys, nice try there, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves, yes? Your film is merely unpleasant spectacle — nowhere is there larger commentary afloat, unless you count the fact that at one point Kevin Gage’s character mutters something about having served in the military. And also, what?! Accrediting events to "pure evil," making an exploitation film then attempting to pass it off as some didactic public act? That’s silly at best, delusional and frightening at worst. And, given the "Facts" listed on the official site (our favorite: "Writer/Director David ‘the Demon’ DeFalco has been permanently terminated from the 24 Hour Fitness gym chain in Los Angeles due to members being in fear of their lives with him working out there."), desperately self-important.

Ebert responds to their letter with an undeservedly thoughtful and lengthy piece on the nature of nihilism in film that’s worth a read. He does eventually call them out on something he should have started off with, however:

Your real purpose in making "Chaos," I suspect, was not to educate, but to create a scandal that would draw an audience. There’s always money to be made by going further and being more shocking. Sometimes there is also art to be found in that direction, but not this time.

Truer words, Roger. And interesting in this weekend of "Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance" and the "Karla" kerfluffle. We’ve never been bothered by violence on screen before, but we’ve never specifically sought out a film on the basis of its alleged shock value either (though we did watch some of "From Justin to Kelly" once on TV) — what’s the point? Are we in some kind of race towards desensitization? Oliver Assayas’ "Demonlover" has been in our thoughts a lot recently. When we first saw it, we left with mixed feelings, but something about the utter moral callousness of the characters (something that rendered their already near inscrutable motivations totally incomprehensible) and the way they turned the same detached, hollow-eyed gaze to every piece of media they were confronted with, whether it be a video game, TV show, or illegal torture/porn site, seem more resonant and disturbing as time passes.

+ Evil in film: To what end? (

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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