TAD2008: Donkey Punch

Seven gold collar young adults get on a boat off one of the shores of one of Spain’s coastal party towns for British party goers. The alcohol flows and recreational drugs enter the mix. Soon the lustful longings take over, couples break off from the pack and an evening of sexual indulgence commences. Having all judgment and rationale clouded by intoxication one of the young men, Josh, eager to participate and fit in, is egged on by Bluey to inflict the mythical ‘Donkey Punch’ on his consensual sex partner Lisa. Josh breaks her neck, killing her, and the mood, instantly. What happens after that is the quick degrading of social structure as they guys scheme to get themselves out of this horrible predicament.

Faced with the loss of a life and the impending loss of lives and lifestyles the backstabbing, correction, cheststabbing, begins and reason is thrown overboard. The only reasoning left on the ship is, what I need to do to protect my own ass! Dark and unsettling, Donkey Punch, jabs at your soul asking you questions that you don’t want to know the answer to. What would do? Would you do the right thing? Bluey and Marcus want to dump the body in international waters. Josh starts over thinking the situation and his brother Sean just wants to protect his brother. Tammi and Kim are stuck on board the small vessel and must rely on their own wits to stay alive and get off the boat.

The beauty of Blackburn and David Bloom’s script is that it is relevant for a young audience. Not relevant in the sense that guys have smashed their dates in the back of the head while having sex. Really now, don’t even think about it, dicks! But, these seven guys and girls could easily be somebody that we know, what to know or want to be like. There is a new term surfacing in sociological circles and I don’t know if it has found feet yet but the term is gold collar. Basically, there is a demographic of young adults out there that slave away on the Monday to Friday jobs and live it up for the weekend. They buy all the nice clothes and expensive bling and use their hard earned cash to live an evening of decadence they could otherwise not afford all the time. This is what they work for. Those nights at the clubs. Those weekends away at the destination party cities that every culture has. To live rich for one night or one weekend. This isn’t exclusively a British thing either as enough of the class system of our parents era has disappeared that it is no longer about class which helps any other audience outside of Britain relate. And it is because the characters are so easy to relate that we can be drawn into the circumstances of the film and be forced to look at ourselves and our own morality.

Proving that you don’t need a big budget to make a good film Blackburn makes the most of the meagre budget and uses his skills as a director. Blackburn’s direction is excellent including some expertly composed shots that really impressed me. I especially liked the shots of the two girls [just the two?] when they took the second drug and Blackburn used the brilliance of the setting sun in the background, at first shielded by their young tanned bodies, then they stumble aside and the brilliance of that sun fills the screen to convey what I thought was the drug taking effect. Also, I don’t know if it was lack of budget or intentional but the minimal gore effects also appealed to me too. I interpreted that as such: an exposure of physical scars after the act and how they relate to the emotional scars that are also developing after the actions of others. You don’t get to see the knife enter the chest as much as you see it still stuck there and being pushed and prodded inflicting more pain than the initial stabbing.

When the reviews started coming out about his film back on his side of the pond on his native soil the one line that stuck out from the review in one publication read, ‘The most distasteful, depraved and nihilistic film I have ever had the misfortune to sit through’. In a world where any press is good press this also sounds as if the film touched a nerve with this critic and I would rather assume that Blackburn’s mission was accomplished than this critic lost sight of what the director/writer was trying to convey. I see a film like Donkey Punch and I take mental notes on my own personal check list and hope that if I ever have the good, nay, incredible, fortune to be on a boat with a beautiful woman in the middle of Lake Ontario and things go pear shaped that I would deal with it better than this. Hopefully. I think I’ll stay away from the Lakeshore for the time being.

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