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Film / Vile

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"Pain will be your only way out."

Vile is a 2011 American independent horror film in the vein of the Saw and Hostel series, directed by Taylor Sheridan.

Ten strangers wake up, locked in a house in the middle of nowhere, with strange tubes attached to the backs of their heads. A video begins to play and informs them that the tubes are there to collect endorphins from the brain that will be used to produce pharmaceuticals, and that if they can collect enough, they will be set free. The only problem is that the endorphins are only produced when the human body is in extreme pain…

While Vile is very much a Torture Porn movie, it differs from many Saw imitators in that most of the gore is never actually shown, leaving the audience to imagine the horrors from the audio, others’ reactions, and the shown aftermath.


Vile provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Action Girl: Tara seems like this at first, being the first one to jump into action, but it quickly becomes clear that she's actually...
  • Ax-Crazy: Tara is ruthless. Over the course of the movie, she rips off multiple fingernails, crushes Greg’s diaphragm, shatters his kneecap, pours boiling water on Tony, uses a hand-crank screwdriver on Nick, stabs multiple people, and accidentally slits Kai’s throat, killing her. And that’s just what the camera shows.
  • Body Horror: Besides the extreme pain the characters must inflict on themselves, they wake up to find tubes wired directly into their brains..
  • Chekhov's Gun: During the camping trip, Tayler’s shows her dolphin tattoo to the camera. After she dies in the house, Nick gets a dolphin tattooed on his neck in her memory.
    • When Sam takes off his shirt before being tortured, he is shown to already be covered in scars, burns, bruises, etc. Tara asks if he can even feel pain anymore (answer: yep, he can). Later, it turns out Sam works for the company that trapped them in the house, and is planted there to guide them through the process. The events of the movie are his fifth time as a guide.
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    • When the four main characters are about to leave their camping trip, Kai hands Tayler a baggie of prescription painkillers to keep hidden in her boot, which are later used on Nick and Greg (see Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!).
    • Nick theorizes early on that the people watching them could kill them with a push of a button. They do.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Tara has no problem brutalizing her peers in order to escape the house. The others are far more reluctant to hurt each other. Once Tara accidentally kills Kai, however, the cast is more than happy to return the favor.
    • The ending implies that Nick is going to torture Diane in revenge.
    • The opening scene has a surgeon cutting a man open without anesthesia and rubbing salt into the incision, while diligently collecting the vials of harvested endorphins and storing them in her centrifuge.
  • Determinator: Tayler near the end of the movie. Greg’s collection is disregarded by the computer, forcing Tayler to make up for the 11% loss all by herself in what little time she has left. She forces herself through the gauntlet and brings the meter back up to 100% in less than two minutes.
  • Developing Doomed Characters: It takes fifteen minutes before the plot actually starts, and another fifteen before anyone gets hurt.
  • Downer Ending: The group survives the house and is about to escape, until Sam murders everyone. Nick is the only one to survive.
  • Fade to Black: Tara’s torture is apparently so awful that the screen cuts to black less than a minute in. The next thing you see is a shot of the progress bar, which has increased by nearly 35%.
  • Final Girl: Subverted. You half expect Tayler to be the final girl, especially when it's revealed that she's pregnant and the father is present and willing to take double the harm to spare her. This doesn't stop her from dying in the end, though.
  • Fingore: Greg ripping off Kai’s fingernail starts the timer. After that, every character gets a few nails ripped off during their tortures.
  • Follow the Leader: As stated above, the film has an almost identical premise to Saw II: a group of strangers wake up in a house together, and must endure unimaginable pain before the clock runs out, or they will die.
  • Genre Blindness: Nick doesn’t see a problem with driving a woman he just met at a creepy gas station at one in the morning to her car out in the middle of the woods.
  • Hope Spot: Once the characters get to 100%, a video plays informing them that they have been set free, and can leave the house.
  • Idiot Ball: Contrary to what the woman on the video says, the endorphins needed are produced during sex as well as during pain. Sam suggests they all just have sex instead of being tortured and is quickly shot down.
  • Ironic Echo: "I love this song". First said by Diane before gassing and kidnapping the protagonists, and then by Nick, after kidnapping Diane.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Tara does the majority of the torture, with absolutely no remorse for her actions. Right before she kills Kai, the bar is at 48%. After the group gets done with her, it’s at 85%.
  • Minimalism: The soundtrack consists of one song, but it fits surprisingly well in all situations where it’s used.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Tayler slips Nick a prescription painkiller she had in her boot to try and save him from feeling the pain. It backfires and prevents his brain from producing as many endorphins, meaning the others have to torture him even more.
  • Pregnant Hostage: Tayler is pregnant with Nick’s child, and the characters debate for a few minutes if she should still be tortured and risk harming the baby. She makes the decision to only harm her upper body, so that she can still contribute without directly harming the child.
  • Pun-Based Title: "Vile" refers to both the horrible acts the characters are forced to endure, and the "vials" that they have to fill up.
  • Reaction Shot: A lot of scenes won’t show the torture, focusing instead on another character’s reaction to let the audience imagine how awful the pain must be.
    • Played for laughs at one point:
    Sam: Just one favor…whatever you do, please don’t touch my genitals.
    Lisa: Okay, if we’re not doing genitals, I don’t want anyone touching my face.
    Tara: (beat) Really? Are you fucking kidding me?
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Despite everyone’s efforts, they all die, except for Nick.
  • Sole Survivor: Only Nick is able to escape. Heart-broken and angry over the loss of his pregnant girlfriend, Nick ends up taking revenge against Diane at the end for kidnapping them to begin with.
  • Take Our Word for It: While there’s plenty of blood to see, there’s just as much gore that is only implied or shown just offscreen.
    • The best example of this is when Tara walks past Tayler holding a hand drill, followed by a cut to Tayler’s horrified face while Nick screams in the background.
  • Torture Porn
  • Viewer-Friendly Interface: The group's progress is marked by a meter that goes up to 100%. This is how they keep track of how much more pain they need to endure.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Tara accuses Greg of being a drug dealer who sells the very substance they’re all being forced into producing, which turns out to be true. It doesn’t answer any questions about the company or what they do.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: The characters survive their torture with only minutes to spare, and are allowed to leave the house one at a time. Sam then murders them all.
    • Tayler especially: the computer disregards Greg’s contribution after his death, forcing Tayler to make up for it on her own. She burns her wounds with peroxide, slams a door on her arm, burns herself with a waffle iron, and drives a nail through her hand, all in the span of two minutes. She satisfies the requirement and then dies from shock.

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