Adam Chaplin (2011)

Nothing can prepare you for this extreme fight.
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Adam Chaplin - Nothing can prepare you for this extreme fight.

From the outset it is apparent that Adam Chaplin is not going to be a run of the mill Italian independent horror movie. The blood flows in torrents within seconds of the film starting and doesn't really relent for the duration. The style seems very much influenced by the Japanese splatter genre of recent years, seemingly inspired by the works of Manga enthused directors such as Yoshihiro Nishimura (Tokyo Gore Police, Helldriver) and Yudai Yamaguchi (Meatball Machine, Deadball), with a hint of Peter Jackson back in his heyday before he went on to make his less popular movies such as Lord of the Rings. Despite the Asian influences, Adam Chaplin maintains some of the charm of Italian cinema such as cardboard acting, bad dubbing and subversive soundtrack. The independent feel is prevalent throughout but despite this the quality exceeds many independent endeavours.

Director Emanuele De Santi (who also wrote the movie and also takes the leading role of Adam Chaplin, plus he did the music) pulls no punches and does not fall into the mediocrity trap often fallen into by newcomers trying to appeal to a wider audience or attempting to piggy-back off recent commercial successes. Adam Chaplin is a film which will appeal to the cult audience. Whether this expression of the film was an intentional tactic or just a result of Emanuele De Santi telling his story they way he intended without commercial thoughts beyond his art is something you will have to ask the man himself.

Adam Chaplin follows a fairly typical revenge plot but manages to jazz this up with a cast of crazy characters and excessive, extreme violence supplemented with lashings of gore. The basic premise is that the love of Adam's life defaults on a payment to a rather nasty crime boss and with the typical punishment for such a payment oversight being death by fire, Adam gets quite vengeful and proceeds to investigate the circumstances of his lover's disappearance. Upon discovering the involvement of the local Mafia, led by the deformed and sadistic Denny Richards (Christian Riva), Adam Chaplin decides it is necessary to enlist the help of a demon which grants him superhuman powers and guaranteed vengeance... as long as he does what the demon tells him.

What follows is Adam's violent, excessive and sadistic investigation to exact revenge on the murderer of his loved one. With the assistance of Derek the demon he proceeds to pulverise anyone who gets in the way of his search for justice and retribution.

The character Adam is a unique anti-hero, once again reminiscent of the not so heroic heroes from Manga but with more of an Adonis vibe than an unfortunate nerdly victim of society; a powerful and merciless killing machine with no concept of forgiveness, compassion or sympathy. The overacting of the character reinforces the superhero concept. His journey brings him into contact with the dregs of Heaven Valley spanning from the derelict junkies through the corrupt police force to the Mafia, all of which contain their share of outlandish characters with outrageous back stories and villainous behaviour verging on comic book bad guy conduct.

This film is a mishmash of ultra-violent fight scenes separated by some peculiar character interactions reminiscent of samurai movies from back in the day. The simplicity of the story doesn't allow for much tension build up or atmospheric engagement and there are extended segments which feel like filler; it is more of a montage of violent effects held together by a premise than a thought provoking fairy tale. The special effects range from some excellent make-up and utilisation of props to some not so excellent computer generated gore. Lots of guts, buckets of blood and uncompromising carnage is the focus here and while Adam Chaplain is portrayed as the handsome, princely superhero fighting a love injustice, he is actually a psychotic evil killer with nothing but selfish motives.

Adam Chaplin is a refreshing change within independent film and within Italian cinema. With the Japanese splatter genre rapidly running out of steam, it is beautiful to see someone from other shores injecting their own ideas into a similar theme. There are some nice aspects that keep it European with the numerous religious and Satanic references probably having more of an impact amongst the Italian culture than in other countries, especially as Satan and Derek are on the side of the hero of the story. Adam Chaplin is an original and thoroughly invigorating independent horror taking inspiration from some of the more extreme and obscure areas of the horror universe.
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