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Slaughterhouse One

A gripping Grand Guignol for girls.

Apr 9, 2012, Vol. 17, No. 29 • By JOHN PODHORETZ
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Gary Ross, who made the turgid Seabiscuit and the obvious Pleasantville, had to figure out how to convey the horror of the games, including the child-on-child killings, without making it so indescribably violent that no fan of the book could ever see it. He did so by using a handheld camera much of the time, with fast cutting and dark lighting, which is usually a maddening style of action filmmaking, but here seems to provide just as much information as we need to get the point without lingering over it.

He is going to have an even greater challenge filming the two later books in the series, Catching Fire and Mockingjay, in which the violence becomes worse and the crushing emotional demands on Katniss begin to take a toll on her spirit and psyche. I don’t know that these books or the movie that springs from them are morally defensible, really—they glory in the violence they view with horror—but my oh my, they sure do get under your skin and into your head.

John Podhoretz, editor of Commentary, is The Weekly Standard’s movie critic.

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