Features

Cine-Excess VI: ‘Closed Circuit Extreme’

★★★☆☆

Giorgio Amato’s Italian found footage horror Closed Circuit Extreme (2012) is a truly petrifying look at the actions of a lonely rapist serial killer, as seen through the lenses of CCTV cameras secretly installed by two suspicious college students. Expertly directed by Amato from his novel Circuito Chiuso, Closed Circuit Extreme maintains a high level of tension throughout through hyper-realistic touches, and a claustrophobic atmosphere enhanced by being shot almost exclusively in a one-person house in the suburbs of Rome.

Cine-Excess VI – the International Cult Film Conference – was an apt location for this UK premiere, as the film had many cult ingredients: a nice splattering of blood and gore, Italian superstars the Manetti Bros. as executive producers of the film, and its being released by cult Italian film house Dania Films, which is owned by the brother of tonight’s guest star, Sergio Martino. The cult film director is a master of giallo horrors, having directed a number of sexploitation classics such as Torso (1973) and the wonderfully named Your Vice Is A Locked Room and Only I Have the Key (1972).

The narrative is shown entirely from CCTV footage, and as such, obvious parallels to other found footage horror will abound. However, homely touches – such as watching the serial killer drink a beer in front of the football, fall asleep on the sofa so we only see his socks, or fold a large pizza into four then stuff it in his mouth while listening to classical music – make the fear more real. Our view into his world is exclusively fixed on three or four vantage points, including a cellar with an impressive array of rather lumbersome gardening equipment, and by the end of the film, you feel like you know that house inside out.

The only view of the outside world we get is from a CCTV camera instilled above the main door, through which we get to glimpse a garden fence, some grass, a bit of street. That, combined with an almost persistent background noise from, we presume, the air vents next to the CCTV footage, gives Closed Circuit Extreme a powerful sense of claustrophobic fear.

As soon as the serial killer starts preying on unsuspecting babysitters, and the audience are privy to some fairly gruelling scenes, many may have to force themselves to watch objectively. Sexploitation horror from the 60s and 70s, which benefits from the emotional remove of the past, are less a problem, but there is something about the contemporary nature of this film that made me really uncomfortable seeing a young girl entirely naked, about to be tortured.

Reservations aside, Amato’s Closed Circuit Extreme Closed Circuit Extreme is a horrifying and impressively low budget Italian thriller, that provides as many thrills through the anticipation of what is about to come, than through the horror and violence itself – though expect plenty of both.

Sophia Satchell Baeza