Warning: The following in-depth review reveals the plot of the film in detail and contains spoilers pertaining to the twists and mechanics of the film.
BOY MEETS GIRL introduces us to thrill-seeking city type, Tevin (Tim Poole) who hops bars in search of female company, (look out for a cameo by fetish clothes designer Pam Hogg as a woman who spurns his advances). Watching his every move is Anne-Marie (Margot Steinberg), an attractive woman with a heavy French accent, who lures him back to her Clapham apartment with the promise of sex, but she has other plans. Tevin is drugged (whilst watching pornography) and awakens to find himself strapped to a dentist chair in a soundproof cellar from which he can’t “talk, or scream, or bribe his way out…”
Tevin reveals, he is married with children and feebly admits he was only in search of a one-night stand. Anne-Marie, reappears in black dominatrix gear and sporting an American accent. “It gets so boring being the same person all of the time” she explains and embarks upon a series of psychological tortures aided by a little seen, masked accomplice. Tevin is forced to watch videos of his captor whipping former victims. A hood is placed over his head and he is drugged whilst the woman goes about her daily business.
Anne-Marie returns (this time wearing a blue latex dress), cuts his hand and mingles it with the blood of her own, informing him that she is “positive”, as punishment for his sleeping around and putting women at risk by not always wearing a condom. But “I’m no different from any other man,” he screams. It becomes clear that Tevin is no random victim when his tormentor reveals she knows all about him, his one-night stands, and recreation, even the fact that his wife has been fucking his boss. “Liar” he retorts.
Whilst the accomplice films proceedings on a video-cam, a plastic appliance is placed over Tevin’s head through which he is forced to inhale cigarette fumes. Quotations are read by Anne-Marie from various texts involving sexual deviation which Tevin finds shocking, despite his admissions of enjoying group sex and forcing himself upon women. “I’ve heard of foreplay, but this is fucking ridiculous”… “Why don’t you just take me upstairs, tie me up… if that’s what you want? FUCK me! And then let me go?” he hisses. She responds by sodomizing him with a vibrator.
He awakens to find the masked camera operator adjusting the video monitor and pleads for his release. The “slave” is unveiled as another woman called Julia (Danielle Sanderson) who informs Tevin that Anne-Marie has “gone”. That it’s her house and that Anne-Marie was someone who had spent time in a mental institution whom she befriended for sympathetic reasons. However, Julia had always considered Anne-Marie just another sexual deviant whose style, tastes, and considered her philosophy loathsome. Just when Tevin assumes he is going to be set free, Julia produces the decapitated head of Anne-Marie.
“What price do you get from my suffering?” he cries. The answer, Julia explains, is the same as his: sat watching mindless violence on the television, pornography on video, and the satisfaction he gleans from one-night stands and his carefree attitude towards women in society. But the movies aren’t real, he argues, nobody gets hurt… Julia replies that yes, “people in real life don’t walk around with bullet holes in them”, that violence in the arts is savage, in reality people are traumatized by suffering… which is why she despises him so much, for those around Tevin succumb to the ill effects caused by his thoughtless regard for his actions.
Tevin is drugged, again, and endures a series of nightmares worrying about his family, interspersed with memories of the videos of Anne-Marie’s torturing her victims. When he awakens, Julia presents him with photos of his wife and kids and a video of the family out shopping. Julia, it seems, has now penetrated their lives too. He pleads with her not to harm them, for they haven’t done anything wrong. Julia doesn’t seem to care, and besides, “They’ve got your blood”, she says.
Further arguments ensue in which Tevin compares Julia to Hitler but we later learn that Tevin himself had stabbed a gay “black bastard” for staring at him. If you are going to cause pain, don’t try and justify it she says, do it for “fun”. Tevin’s hand is placed in a microwave and slowly roasted until he confesses to several crimes that earned him court appearances. Julia reveals that she know all this because she attended the court hearings. “You’re fucking weird... I ought to knock your fuckin’ lights out” he screams. The next morning Julia announces that “Today’s a special day”, that they are not alone and have company. A curtain is pulled back to reveal a cabinet display of human skulls and severed organs. On a wall hang framed photos of blurred faces in the throes of agony. They are going to play a game, Tevin is blindfolded and made to guess what’s placed in his mouth. Due to his increasing hunger he may swallow anything he likes the taste of. He spits out horse shit, urine and maggots. The maggots are then placed in the open wound on his hand and as he struggles one of the fetters comes loose. Tevin escapes, knocking his tormentor unconscious and repeatedly stamps on her face. But when he pulls on the door handle he receives an electric shock that knocks him out cold.
Semi-awake, he again finds himself strapped to the chair and is subjected to unanaethetized surgery in which he is eviscerated, stuffed with the crumpled photos of his family and a cut-throat razor, and sown up.
Julia returns from a walk in the rain in which she laid on the grass and stared at the moon “when everything became clear.” Tevin, too, seems to have finally received some form of insight into why everything is happening and now in his wretched state begs for his release, “to see the light once more”, recognizing the error of his ways. As Julia raises his body, severe pain caused by the surgery and the hidden razor embedded in his stomach cause him to collapse.
The dark chamber is adjourned with candles. Julia wears a red dress, the colour of lust, blood and death. She reveals that this is her altar to God, that her childhood home had also housed a shrine and that an accident had caused the home to burn down. When she had cried out to God that this was his altar she received no answer. Tevin pleads for his release once more, he wants to live, he says, to see his family. Julia gently strokes his face and then brutally strangles him with a bondage rope.
The chamber lights flicker on once more to reveal Julia with a new victim strapped to the dentist chair… a black woman. Thus, the serial killer is revealed as being more dangerous than we could possibly have realized. For Tevin was just another victim. He died purely for her sadistic pleasure and not for some warped sense of avenging the ills of society.
In a letter sent to The Video Appeals Committee at Soho Square, in Feb ‘97, Brady explains that BOY MEETS GIRL was intended as a “counterpoint to the norm” where Good always triumphs over evil, and “that the vast majority of today’s films, not only nurture complacency but lead directly to misinformation”. Citing the DIE HARD and HOME ALONE films... “A generation of children are being raised that have been conditioned to believe that ‘right will always prevail over wrong’ that ‘macho posturing will be rewarded with adulation and respect’ that if you consider yourself to be the ‘good guy/woman’ then it is completely justifiable to use any weapon that comes to hand in your defence, even...to maim and inflict death.” Brady argues that by censoring scenes of violence, in order to protect the viewer from something they may find distressing, the BBFC is failing to educate the public "of the consequences of violence". It has now become the norm for directors "to stylise or glamorise the violent act" to "make it almost erotic, or turn the whole thing into a farce i.e. belief is actively encouraged if not considered essential". To support his reasoning Brady uses inter-titles to break up the film into a series of vignettes, each with its own message satirizing the way in which movies misrepresent violence and desensitize viewers to its effects. The most obvious title card reads ’People in real life don’t walk around with bullet holes in them’. ’I’ll be back’ is a pointed reference to the Terminator series and other films in which the hero invariably survives and seems "impervious to pain or injury".
’What pleasure do you get from his suffering?’ asks the audience to examine their passive acceptance of violence. To ensure this Brady utilizes techniques similar to those in the original cut of John McNaughton’s HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER by having us view an attack on the victim through the lens of the assailant’s video camera. We therefore become privy to the assault as first party and participant to Tevin’s nightmare.
’Just your Average Victim’ builds on the directional change that Brady has our emotions follow. Having been made to feel guilty at viewing the assault on Tevin we are horrified to finally witness his murder. As Brady points out in his letter to Ferman "Death by strangulation is a very long and time consuming method of killing someone. I wanted to show the full ugliness and horror of a death… and thereby hopefully repel and distance my audience from the act". In this he succeeds for now we find ourselves led full circle to believe that despite Tevin’s gender related society crimes he does not deserve such retribution.
If viewers still had doubt as to whether their sympathies should lie with Tevin or Julia the final card ’One Last Thought’ introduces us to the killer’s latest victim; a black female. Thus BOY MEETS GIRL forces us to question the way in which we relate to both violence and feminist rape-revenge cinema previously legitimised by the likes of Hollywood with the Jody Foster vehicle THE ACCUSED or independent exploitation pieces such as I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE.
BOY MEETS GIRL defies its low budget and engages the viewer with a deftly compiled script. The violence is nauseating despite the fact that hardly any blood is spilled on screen. Nothing is seen close up, we aren’t thrown off edge by low-budget special effects, even though we’re reminded It’s Only A Movie with on-screen title cards and dialogue laced with black humour.
Brady’s unsettling film provokes its audience into recognizing that on-screen violence affects our sensibilities. That the BBFC should originally fail to recognize its implicit cinematic value is a travesty. That Ferman no longer acts as public film censor in the UK, and adults can finally view BOY MEETS GIRL in the comfort of their own homes is cause for celebration.
Unearthed Films DVD Region 1 presentation is the best way to see the film, there is grain evident but that is due to the limitations of the original 16mm source material and colours are pretty sharp throughout. The sound is also far better that on the previous UK Boudicca VHS release, though I have not had a chance to see their Region 2 DVD. An abundance of extras focus on the making and problems concerned with eventually getting the film passed the BBFC in the UK – A thorough timeline of these were included in the article on BMG in issue 1 of UNRATED – the magazine. Best of all is a superb commentary by Brady and the original script which is accessible for viewers with DVD-Rom facilities. All in all a great title which is recommended unreservedly.
Carl T. Ford
Directed by Ray Brady
An Unearthed Films DVD Release
BOY MEETS GIRL