Donkey Punch and the Fall of Man

‘Kevin and Perry’ meets ‘Salo’ in this new Britflick, a perverse middle-class fantasy about morally slack twentysomethings on holiday in Spain.

Brendan O'Neill

Brendan O'Neill
chief political writer

Share
Topics Culture

Funded by £1million of government money, backed by the sophisticated film aficionados at Film4, praised at the Sundance Film Festival, and directed by someone called Olly Blackburn – who according to his biography lives ‘not far from the house where William Blake lived’ – Donkey Punch is a perverse middle-class fantasy about the amoral shenanigans of twentysomething holidaymakers in Mallorca.

It is Kevin and Perry meets Salo, or 120 Days of Sodom. There’s sun, sea, tits and drugs, but there’s also violent anal sex, discussions about shitting on people and smearing it on their chests, and – how many was it again? – oh yes, six gruesome deaths. The film is meant to be a nightmare vision of how youthful abandon can go horribly wrong. It actually reveals far more about moral warping amongst the killjoy cultural elite.

The film starts by introducing us to three gobby girls from Leeds: Lisa (Sian Breckin), Tammi (Nichola Burley) and Kim (Jaime Winstone, daughter of Ray). Young, beautiful and glisteningly tanned, they’ve come to Mallorca to help Tammi get over the memory of a bastard boyfriend back in Leeds. They get off their trolleys. They drink vodka from the bottle. They saunter tempestuously into posh nightclubs and steal bottles of champagne. If you were 19, male, red-blooded and in Spain, you would want to meet girls like this.

The joy doesn’t last. Such coquettishness cannot go unpunished for long. There is an ominous sign of the terror that awaits the girls when Tammi, getting ready for a night on the tiles – well, a morning, afternoon and night on the tiles – cuts herself while shaving her armpits. Blood pumps forth. It is like a nick of punishment for her flagrant attempt to beautify herself; a glimpse of the fate that awaits women who doll themselves up for the benefit of the unfairer sex.

The girls meet four middle-class boys – Marcus, Bluey, Josh and Sean – and the horror begins. It’s important to point out these aren’t decent, respectable middle-class boys. They don’t read the Guardian. They don’t discuss their student loan debts. They certainly don’t look like they grew up ‘not far from the house where William Blake lived’. Instead they are mouthy and horny and they frequently show their arses. Where I come from, we called their kind ‘wide boys’. It is striking that in their attempts to add a finesse of class conflict to the film – where the working-class girls become victims of well-to-do boys – the filmmakers cannot help pumping their posh-boy characters with bloke-ish traits more suited to the Club 18-30 circuit than the dancefloors of Boujis.

The boys take the girls on to a yacht that they’re looking after for some rich snot, and we soon descend from Mallorca into the seventh circle of hell. Off their heads on E, coke and some brown stuff in a plastic tube (a super-strong form of grass apparently), they start screwing around. Bluey – the trashiest of the four boys, who speaks in pure Blackney (a combination of ‘black speak’ and Cockney) – encourages Josh, a timid, polite young man, to ‘donkey punch’ Lisa.

For the uninitiated – those who do not spend their time discussing sexual urban myths with pissed young men – a ‘donkey punch’ is when a man punches a woman in the neck while his penis is in her anus. She goes unconscious, her sphincter tightens, and he gets the orgasm of a lifetime. Nice. (‘What’s in it for the woman?’ asks Lisa when they’re discussing donkey punches earlier in the evening. ‘I don’t understand the question’, replies Bluey. It’s the film’s only funny moment.) There is something in it for the woman this time, though: Lisa dies when Josh administers the sexual blow.

The remaining two girls and the four boys turn on each other. Pandemonium follows. Then recriminations. Then false imprisonment. Then violence. Then more violence. And finally a stabbing, a shooting, a strangling and a killing with a handheld speedboat propeller that makes the Texas Chainsaw Massacre look like an episode of Jamie and the Magic Torch. Stuck on a boat in the middle of the Mediterranean, four young men and two women turn into savages and desperados, slitting each others’ throats in a struggle for survival. Think Ibiza Uncovered meets Lord of the Flies.

Some sections of the tabloid press (you know who you are, Amanda Platell) have fretted that this film might twist impressionable young minds. Who knows, it might even encourage yoof to experiment with donkey-punching and to train themselves in the art of using a pyrotechnic flare to kill a tanned wanker on a boat. I’m far more worried that the film will titillate and massage the prejudices of well-to-do cinemagoers. See, it isn’t really aimed at the rowdy Saturday-night cinema crowd; it is pornography for the chattering classes.

The heart of this movie is a nightmarish vision of the moral slackness of misguided, drink-fuelled youth from the wrong side of the tracks (or, in the case of the four ‘posh’ boys, from the wrong side of the right side of the tracks). It is the logical cultural conclusion to years of voyeuristic condemnation of the ‘fat, ugly, white-trash scum staggering through the streets screaming “En-ger-laaaand”’, whose ‘vile behaviour, disgusting inebriation, oral sex and other beachside practices would startle a Blackpool donkey’ (1).

We’ve been led to believe that lads’ and ladettes’ holidays in Mallorca, Faliraki, Torremolinos and elsewhere represent the decline and fall of civilisation into a cesspool of vomit and discarded condoms. Apparently, in these holiday hotspots, where the sound of white heels click clacking on the pavement is drowned out only by the noise of blokes vomiting into plant pots, boozing turns into drug-taking, which turns into unprotected sex, which turns into rape, which turns into imprisoned young men and destroyed young women.

Donkey Punch takes these chattering-class fantasies to the next level: here the drinking, winking and fornicating that is the stuff of youthful holidays blurs into an orgy of unspeakable violence.

The striking thing is the speed with which the characters in the film transform from run-of-the-mill young people into demented lunatics who will use anything sharp to cut up their foes. The façade of civilisation slips, and the characters’ animalistic determination to kill in order to survive kicks in. Setting the film on a boat in the middle of a night-time sea intensifies this vision of common young people as being cut adrift from normalcy, from society, from morality. They are ‘out there’, separated from the norms of everyday life. As the boat drifts slowly from Spanish waters into international waters, one is left with the distinct impression of young people themselves floating between laws and morality; unanchored; literally at sea.

Director Olly Blackburn says his film should not be treated as a horror story; it’s realistic, he said in a recent interview with Mr Disgusting of the Bloody Disgusting website, featuring ‘characters and events that are based in reality’. Indeed, he says he was inspired by recent reports of ‘parties going out of control and things happening, in places where there’s a lot of luxury, young people, football stars with a lot of money, and that kind of [thing]’ (2).

Pasolini explored the collapse of human morality in his dark masterpiece about the Republic of Salo, the Nazi puppet state set up by Hitler for Mussolini in northern Italy (his film also featured drunkenness, violent sex and shit). Blackburn, inspired by horror stories about the nouveau riche rather than the Nazis, traces the destruction of the human soul during a girlie holiday in Mallorca. Who’s really warped here – young people who booze, snort and screw around for a couple of sun-filled weeks every year, or their superior observers, who see in such shenanigans the potential for blood-spattered savagery and the fall of man?

Brendan O’Neill is editor of spiked.

Read on:

spiked-issue: Film

(1) See Flying off the handle, by Brendan O’Neill, Comment Is Free, 15 January 2007

(2) Interview with Olly Blackburn, Bloody Disgusting, 2007 http://www.bloody-disgusting.com/interview/441

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.

Share
Topics Culture

Comments

Want to join the conversation?

Only spiked supporters, who donate regularly to us, can comment on our articles.

Become a spiked supporter
Share