REVIEW: “Chaos” - Ebert was Right for the Wrong Reasons
Posted by Eugene @ LessGovernment.com - October 2006
Let there be no mistake -- Chaos is a terribly cruel and violent film, horrific even to the point of being
morally indefensible. Due to this, Roger Ebert printed the following in his review:
"'Chaos' is ugly, nihilistic, and cruel -- a film I regret having seen. I urge you to avoid it.
Don't make the mistake of thinking it's 'only' a horror film, or a slasher film. It is an
exercise in heartless cruelty and it ends with careless brutality. The movie denies not only
the value of life, but the possibility of hope."
The above paragraph set off a storm of conflict, which materialized in the form of a letter from the
producer and director to Roger Ebert, to be followed by Ebert's response. In essence, the filmmakers
assert that they are simply trying to portray evil for what it is and provide a "warning" to young women
who might engage in stupidity like that which leads to the atrocities shown in the movie. Ebert's
counter is that a film which merely records evil has no redemptive value (i.e. the depiction of such
horror is not a problem, but the absence of any alternative to the horror is).
In principle, I agree with Ebert. Truly, there is no moral ground on which Chaos might stand. The
warning at the beginning of the film smacks of smarm, and the filmmakers' responses to Ebert's
criticism are layered with trite attempts at justification. There is even a bonus feature on the DVD in
which producer Jay Bernheim and director David Defalco address some of the controversy on-camera.
Their rationalization is lame to the extreme.
On the other hand, why does such a film have to be justified? I would have respected the filmmakers
had they responded to Ebert by simply saying, "So what?" To claim there is no enjoyment to be had in
"evil" of a cinematic nature, even if it is just a presentation of evil as opposed to an analysis of it, is
self-righteous. To claim there is no place for such a movie is naiv