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Deviation (1971)

Although not technically a British film (it’s another Jose Larraz “extravaganza”), Deviation, a remarkably grubby film about drugs, sex and violence, was filmed in the UK with a lot of local “talent” in front of the lens. Sadly, it’s also an incoherent mess, although in its favour it does have a particularly mental opening sequence.

Quite what it’s all about is a bit hard to fathom – it appears that a young couple are in the habit of picking up other youngsters, drugging them into submission and then using them in sordid sex games. Sometimes these games go too far, and then they have to bury the evidence (at one point the body won’t fit into the hole, prompting the immortal line: “Oh, belt it with the shovel.”).

The dodgy couple, Julian and Rebecca, are brother and sister. In his spare time, Julian enjoys a spot of embalming (kits available at your local Hobbycraft), and by the look of her, Rebecca probably relaxes by listening to a bit of Cradle Of Filth.

At the beginning of the film we have seen a woman running pell mell through a wood to a soundtrack of low humming and church bells, intercut with images of a man frantically hammering nails into planks of wood. This astonishing introduction to the world of Deviation (actually a flash-forward to the end of the film) has a frenetic madness to it, but this is the one and only time when the film sparks any real interest. For the next 90 minutes we’re treated to murky lighting, lots of saggy pale flesh, and a group of substandard “actors” who look like they’re been told to pad out every scene by ad-libbing some extra lines.

Enter another young couple, Olivia and Paul, who are driving down a road when a ghostly white figure runs out in front of their car, causing it to crash. They are picked up by the gruesome twosome, who take them back to their home.

Paul is immediately suspicious of Julian and Rebecca’s motives (“Those two are trying to hide something for some unknown reason… I’m not worrying, it’s just that I like to know”), and he is woken during the night by screaming coming from elsewhere in the house. As he investigates he finds a gibbering woman and then spots a group of people carrying the body of the person he hit with his car. He runs back to Olivia, but can’t wake her – the pair of them had been drugged, but naughty Paul had already taken an upper, so the two drugs have cancelled each other out.

He decides to make a break for it on his own, but is caught by Julian and Rebecca’s gang of hedonist idiots, forced to have sex at gunpoint with a busty nympho, and is then brutally stabbed by Rebecca.

The next morning, Olivia wakes up alone, is told that Paul has gone back to London, and decides to throw herself wholeheartedly into her new home’s wild and crazy life. “Something about this place leaves me rather dumbfounded…” she mumbles. “But I like it!”

Despite being repeatedly injected with drugs against her will and forced to endure endless orgies, Olivia is true to her word, pleading at one point “Do whatever you want, as long as I don’t have to go back to that gloomy existence…” But things are about to get complicated – Julian and Rebecca get their chemicals from an elderly chemist, who warns them that one of these days, they’re “going to go too far” (what “too far” is, considering the preceding nonsense, is anyone’s guess). The chemist is then seduced and murdered by Rebecca, in what turns out to be a painfully long diversion from the main story. Olivia then wakes up with a very dead Rebecca next to her, shoots Julian and ends up in hospital, leaving everyone in the audience very confused.

If nothing else, Deviation lives up to its name, being packed with some frankly deviant behaviour. What the title actually refers to is anyone’s guess – it could be anything from the deviation Paul has to make off the road at the beginning, to the storyline itself (which deviates into the interminable chemist/Rebecca tryst), to the makers themselves – no-one normal could come up with such a grotty hotch-potch of mixed messages and dubious morals. After such a promising opening, the film is a real let-down.

Directed by: José Ramón Larraz (as J.R.Larrath); Cast: Karl Lanchbury; Lisbet Lundquist

Last updated: February 22, 2010

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