3 / 5
Tagline: In this town murder became the neighborhood game
Directed by: Gregory Wilson
Written By: Daniel Farrands, Philip Nutman, Jack Ketchum
Actors Include: Blythe Auffarth, Daniel Manche, Blanche Baker
Genre: Horror, Thriller, Drama, Crime
Length: 91 minutes
This is a highly regarded film (at least on the IMDB it is) and well I've heard it's one of the most disturbing films ever so I felt I had to see it. It's based on a true story but that is where the film becomes annoying for me. After watching it, I looked up the real story and found some huge discrepancies, and if they'd only kept to the "real" story the film would have made far more sense and been far better. When I looked up why they changed it, they said it was because it's a work of fiction based on a true story...still I'll try and explain if I can. The movie story is about a young teen girl and her crippled younger sister. Their Parents died in an auto accident, and they were forced to live with this strange Aunt they don't really know. The strange Aunt has several of her own children, and seems to have neighborhood children over too and she speaks of inappropriate things to the children and gives them beer. The boy next door becomes friends with the non-crippled girl (Meg to be more precise) so he comes over to the weird Aunt's place often. Thing is, Meg isn't liked by her Aunt, she's accused of touching her sister inappropriately and then treated terribly. She is embarrassed in front of the other kids, hit, taunted, really she becomes the whipping boy for the kids and the weird Aunt. Anyhow things progress and weird Aunt starts tying the girl up in the basement and torturing her with the kids (the boy next door doesn't really participate but he watches and doesn't tell anyone). Now why in the heck wouldn't that boy tell...it's beyond me. Anyhow they end up torturing this girl to her death but not before they take a blowtorch to her genitals (yeah seriously that was disturbing). So anyhow aside from the fact that the motivations for this are entirely unclear, the actress that plays the Aunt is one of the most obnoxious and terrible actresses I've ever seen. She is distractingly awful, as in we almost shut it off because we couldn't stand watching her try to act. Now comes the bigger trouble, the real story. The real story is about Sylvia Likens and her sister Jenny who were the children of Carnies. They couldn't afford to take the kids along so they foolishly left the kids with a virtual stranger in exchange for twenty dollars a week. Now the stranger they left her with did have many of her own children and was actually married to a cop. She was delusional and had been tortured and abused by former boyfriends and had led a rough life. The real story doesn't have the victim inappropriately touching her sister (thank goodness) and instead the torture began when her parent's were late with payment for the girls. Also the Caretaker was so delusional and pregnant that she began imagining and telling everyone that Sylvia was pregnant and that stepped up the torture. There was no boy next door who was her friend in reality, only some awful children that lived with a delusional lady and her husband. The torture isn't as described in the movie (except the burning of the words "I'm A Prostitute And Proud Of It" on her chest and the cigarette burns), there is no blow torch, but she was kicked in the crotch so she was mutilated there. The other huge motivator in the real case was money. The family was so poor that they only had one spoon to share, and definitely no alcohol to share with the neighborhood kiddies. The combination of things led to the horrible death of Sylvia, but at least it's way better explained in reality than in this movie. For all of it's faults it's not entirely awful to watch some times (when the Aunt isn't in it) and the story is in fact interesting (the real one) but you'd be better off finding a documentary on the case rather than sitting through this, even if parts are very disturbing. Definitely disappointing but at least I know the truth now!