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By Merle Bertrand | November 20, 2001

Jerome, an angry, tattoo-festooned clod in a white wife-beater, considers himself a “collector of custom wearable art.” Bored with tattoos and evolved beyond the piercing phase, Jerome is ready to make the next leap to scarification. That’s why he finds himself driving to Ray’s warehouse, where he’ll pay the amiable body art specialist $500…to shoot him in the shoulder.
Director Daniel Loflin gets a lot of mileage out of this simple film. He refuses to judge Jerome’s rantings as the latter drives to his violent rendezvous, instead letting this half-baked, pseudo intellectual hang himself with his own whining noose. And hang he does. Jerome is the perfect embodiment of all those crybaby pseudo-punks out there; poor-me suburbanites who assume the world owes them something and who don’t know how good they really have it. At one point, he muses that even though he’s settling for getting shot in the shoulder, getting shot in the forehead would make a far more impressive statement. By this time, we’d gladly pull the trigger.
As for the actual triggerman, Ray, he approaches his task with the cool air of a professional; calmly opening a red toolbox to display the guns and ammo he could use on Jerome and explaining why he chooses the one he does. His chilling reasoning and meticulous preparation provide a perfect counterbalance to his knowingly subversive wink and nod that his extreme body art discipline isn’t exactly legal. At least not yet. Then again, we live in a time where with a few hundred bucks and the internet, we can buy almost anything.
“Delusions in Modern Primitivism” is an utterly chilling documentary, especially since you spend the entire film wondering if A) Jerome’s really gonna go through with this, and B) is this film for real, or a put-on?
I ain’t tellin’ — only a close inspection of the credits provides the slightest tip-off — and it really doesn’t matter. “Delusions in Modern Primitivism” makes for a highly charged, subtly terrifying film either way.

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  1. Sally Squibb says:

    I first saw this “Mockumentry” at least 15 years ago one of “my” public high school Speech and Debate classes: we were beginning a study of general Persuasive Techniques & Rhetoric! When I first found the video that existed before YouTube, I thought, “What brilliant satire that is public school safe!” Several students wondered if this film was “for real”? I rolled my eyes, but that’s the reply I thought I would get a decade and a half ago! I showed the film again two days ago and the same questions still rolled across the floor: “Miss! Is this real?” “Miss! This is not legal, even in downtown south Dallas where it was filmed!” I still wonder how this 15-year-old knew the location!

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