starring Ella Scott Lynch, Benedict Samuel, Heather Mitchell, Lewis Fitzgerald
screenplay by David Barker and Lou Mentor
directed by David Barker
by Walter Chaw David Barker's hyphenate debut Pimped reminds of Danny Boyle's feature debut Shallow Grave in that both are twisty, twisted chamber pieces revolving around bad behaviour that spins, mortally, out of control. It's sexy and sleek, shot every bit like an Adrian Lyne film obsessed with the mating rituals of the rich and beautiful. Opening in a lurid party scored to Peaches' "Fuck the Pain Away," it intimates that what's to follow will be a bacchanal, unbridled in its indulgence in earthly delights. And it very nearly delivers on that. Worth noting that Pimped is just one of several of this year's films that seems invested in the conversation about women's empowerment and men's proclivities towards violence, sexual or otherwise. What's interesting about this conversation in horror is that it's a fairly common one. Of all the things it's on the vanguard of, horror has always been aware of the imbalance of sexual politics. With the topic now in the mainstream, small wonder that this genre, so often derided by even its more opportunistic creators (Danny Boyle among them, as it happens), has gained some measure of popular esteem. The more ignorant cultural critics have even been emboldened to opine that horror is not horror. Those who know, know that horror was always more likely to have these difficult midnight chats.
A late moment finds Sarah slowly, sensually cleaning off the silverware knives in her kitchen with a dish towel. Barker lingers there and we wonder about the times we've held sharp things in our hands and contemplated using them to hurt loved ones for flickering, incomprehensible seconds before putting them away. Pimped has something else on its mind in its final moments, too, an expansion of the premise to perhaps indict marriage as another form of sexual arrangement for profit and inclusion. In scenes of a possible domestic solution for Sarah, her id projection sits in the dress Sarah wears for her indiscretions (real or imagined), there in the next room or on the stairs to the basement, lighting a lighter to keep the pilot light burning. The beast in the jungle is never very far, and the people we take for granted are mere caretakers for thoughts and impulses they may not always be able to control. Pimped is alive and dangerous, itself a beautiful confection on its surface that has just beneath claws and razor edges. It's got something to say and trusts its audience to listen. 2018 has been a year of great directorial debuts and this is one of them.