Does Gore Enhance the Cinematic Experience?

This weekend we watched a movie called Upgrade that was mostly quite good. Surprisingly good, actually.

Upgrade is set in a not-so-distant future, a future of self-driving cars, police drones, and other things I don’t want to spoil (there are lots of twists, turns, and reveals).

The movie starts off with an act of violence, but it isn’t particularly gorey. Then, around 30 minutes into the movie, something really gorey and violent happens. It caught us off guard, almost to the point of disgust, but we decided to continue.

I really don’t want to spoil more, but I’m curious about your thoughts. I’ve read quite a few reviews over the years in which reviewers laud a movie for embracing the gore permitted in R-rated films and bemoaning movies that play it safe in PG-13.

For me, though, while I appreciate a visceral experience, I don’t need to see gore to be fully immersed or entertained. It often detracts from my enjoyment of a movie rather than enhancing the experience.

That’s just me, though. What about you? Are there some movies that are better because of the gore, and some that would have been better without it?

6 thoughts on “Does Gore Enhance the Cinematic Experience?”

  1. In my opinion, gore will cause a strong reaction to the viewer (often disturbing) but not necessarily enhance the story. I find that a grisly scene can be quite effective and memorable without seeing any gore. In Psycho’s famous shower scene, one never sees the knife cut the victim. Also, in Fight Club there’s a scene where a notable character’s face is beaten to a pulp but the camera shot is on the attacker and not the victim. Each scene is quite effective without showing any or a lot of gore.

  2. I won’t watch movies that I know have violence and gore. Our society is already much too violent and I won’t reward that kind of film making with my money or eyeballs. There are some rare exceptions for me but it hasn’t gone well most of the time. “Saving Private Ryan,” for instance, had me waking up, screaming, from nightmares for about three weeks. I just can’t take that sort of violence at all.

    Here’s a topic for you, Jamey… how often do you choose to watch films because they pass the test, or choose not to watch them because they fail the test? The test? The Bechdel test.
    Briefly, to meet the criteria of that test:
    1. There have to be at least two named female characters
    2. Who talk to each other
    3. About anything other than a man.
    This rules out an astonishing number of movies, and yet, to me, it should be a requirement of EVERY film. I’m guessing you might disagree, but see if it doesn’t at least make you think, if you choose to pay attention to those criteria. I know you care about the inclusion of women and girls in gaming, and so I won’t be surprised if you care about it in cultural media as well.

    • Spoiler: Upgrade isn’t yet on the Bechdel movie site, but anyone can add movies to the database, sometimes resulting in lively discussion. I encourage you to add the movie to the list, especially if you think it DOES pass the test. It’s somewhat unusual for very violent movies to make it.

    • Julia: I’m definitely aware of the Bechdel test, and while I don’t think about it every time I watch something (nor does it impact what I decide to watch), I think of it from time to time, particularly when a movie or TV show passes it.

  3. To me it depends on the nature of a movie. A slasher horror film isn’t going to sit well with audiences if it doesn’t have gore. A brutally realistic depiction of war is going to lose its message if it doesn’t have the gore.

    I’m personally not big on gore. I’m fairly squeamish, and I can’t stand other peoples blood.

    I do find the artistic use of well placed gore to be impactful. For example, in Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight”, we have the character of the Joker. He preforms violent acts through much of the movie, but these are usually too quick too see much but the aftermath, off camera, or alluded too. All of this leads up to the reveal of Harvey Dent’s horrific facial burns. Here for the first time, well over an hour and half into the movie, we see something brutal. The impact and weight of this scene would be lost if the audience had been previously subjected to scenes of gore.


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