In this era of listless PG-13 horror flicks, it's something of a relief to know that the 1970s-style exploitation shocker still exists, but Chaos only serves as another depressing reminder of how far the genre has fallen. Two teenage girls on their way to a rave in the middle of nowhere stumble into the den of a gang headed by a drifter named Chaos (Kevin Gage), leading to various graphic scenes of rape, torture, mutilation, etc. The reference point is obviously Wes Craven's Last House on the Left, but Chaos lacks the audience-implicating boldness or howling political outrage of that landmark; where Last House was provocative, Chaos is merely disgusting. The movie opens with a message announcing its mission "to educate and, perhaps, save lives"presumably a joke, although the portrayal of one girl's impossibly naive parents ("Emily was raised with good family values!"), an attempt at social satire so inept as to verge on self-parody, raises some doubt. Other hints of subtexta cop's racially charged comments, an allusion to Chaos's military pastgo nowhere, but the root problem may be that the ultraviolent strategies Craven used so effectively 30 years ago don't work for today's non-shockable horror audience. Still, the film's ending, as nihilistic as Chaos himself, feels depressingly contemporary.
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