Best movies: The Living and the Dead (2006), Red, White & Blue (2010), Little Deaths (2011)

Genre films don’t get much bleaker than the ones written and directed by Simon Rumley. Thus, if you’re the possessor of a weak stomach or unflinching optimism, proceed toward the Englishman’s work with caution.

On the other hand, those able to handle overwhelming harshness should find much to admire about Rumley’s efforts. Take the disturbed 2006 film The Living and the Dead, for example—showing the horrific turn of events that plagues a mentally unhinged rich kid as he watches over his ill mother, Rumley’s psychological nightmare scenario gets progressively crazier and darker with each scene. By the film’s end, The Living and the Dead is almost on par with Requiem for a Dream in terms of its downbeat paralysis.

As for Red, White & Blue, Rumley’s stateside look at a trio of hopelessly screwed characters…we suggest you kick back a few stiff drinks before watching. Early on, it’s a hypnotically paced examination of random connections, mainly that of a sexually promiscuous girl (Amanda Fuller) and the Iraq vet (the exceptional Noah Taylor) with whom she develops a supportive bond. Once one of her old one-night-stand partners (Marc Senter) finds out some upsetting news, though, Red, White & Blue quickly descends into a cavalcade of dismemberment, torture, and slasher-movie killings, all staged with the bluntness of scissors to one’s eyeballs.

And that’s not even the sickest shit that Rumley has to offer. Such distinction is reserved for “Bitch,” his contribution to the perverse British horror anthology Little Deaths. In an effort to not spoil any of the segment’s demented brilliance, we’ll just say this: The “Bitch” title is a two-sided allusion, referring to both the despicable female character and the kind of four-legged animals that, um, defile her. Yeah, Rumley is a sick bastard. And that’s a compliment.