Wheel of Pain 1|
I don't have the means to do a proper review of a film but wish to offer a brief appreciation of this film and its series. I do not think any of the dozen WoP films have been reviewed. I've watched one and skimmed another, and recommend them highly.
Tara, the lean and intense star of WoP 1, immediately caught my attention. Her look may not appeal to all, but those who admire a lean, slender, fit body type may find her exciting. With that look comes an icy determination to meet the challenges ahead, tempered by a realistic appraisal of the sensitivities of her body and the unyielding demands of the game. (Spin first for the body part that will be whipped, then for the implement to be used, with a dozen to choose from. The number of strokes begins at 10 and rises, as do the payouts. Default from a treatment, in process or in prospect, and forfeit half of the prior steps earnings.) The rules matter for the same reason that The Milgram Experiment works: it evokes the demand characteristics of the situation, which are bigger and more forceful than the participants. While the moderator never tells her that the game must continue, helps her along by eliciting her consent, adding a note of menace (are you certain you can endure what may follow) and dominance (by telling her where to stand or when to show the effects of the previous treatment on part of her body). Set in the context of the game, then, there is no anger and no animus, it is all as it must be, given the setting and circumstances.
All this matters for the review because what happens to participant in WoP--they've consented to be paid to be whipped on various parts of their bodies--is not nearly as interesting as how this has come about and how it happens. Frankly, early in the film when Tara is first told that she must undergo the treatments naked, and then that she should now remove her clothes, are exceptional moments for those who enjoy watching the subtle play of emotions on a woman's face. Consider it method acting: Tara is in the experience and reflecting it in her face and body...watch her throat as she waits for the wheel to determine the next bit of her fate.
Apologies if you find this long and pedantic--and devoid of images--but WoP is an imaginative and engaging series that elicits an extraordinary plays of emotions from participants and viewers alike. The moderator elicits areas of particular sensitivity and implements of particular dread from Tara, then with a word or an intake of breath comments on the results of a spin. In one instance he goes so far as to say that he himself will apply the strokes on a particularly sensitive area, to be certain that she feels it as she should.
What to do better? Get rid of the blaring horn and "WoP" logo between scenes. Show the contestant walking to her fate (the punishment walk, some might say) and being positioned and prepared to received the strokes. Always, always bind her in position--the free-standing consensual set-up is not interesting (at least to me). Maybe it is not possible to show walking and positioning for every treatment, but some would be welcome--adds drama and realism--and the blaring logo is disruptive.
All in all, A- for inventiveness and ability to elicit emotions and performance....and an A for Tara as the pioneer in this game.