"Not a horror movie, but a horrifying experience."
Freddy, Jason, Michael - suck it.Henry Lee Lucas was a man who confessed to a whole bunch of murders, and then recanted his statements and claimed he was innocent of all charges. He was convicted, however, and this film is loosely based on his story. The film doesn't glorify him, nor does it pity him as a misunderstood soul. This film simply shows us a man who has ceased to feel anything, and who kills people as a result of that detachment. "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer" is a tough, unflinching film that manages to scare the hell out of the audience without resorting to cheap shocks and creative death scenes. Everything that happens in this movie has a cold deliberation. The audience knows what's going to happen, and the fear is matched by a cold feeling of dread.
The story behind this film is well-told: The producer gave John McNaughton money to make a horror movie. He expected a cheap "Friday the 13th" knock-off that could pull in a few bucks with the teenage crowd. McNaughton gave him this. And it shocked the hell out of everyone, most of all the producer. It was banned for a long time, and when it finally came out, people either loved it for its realism, or hated it for its borderline exploitation of real-life events. The "scary" scenes in this movie are what "8MM" strived to achieve, and failed. 8MM tried to couple the disturbing images with flashy cinematography and loud music, so that the audience is distracted from the horrors. "Henry" just stares right at the images, and dares you to look away.
In this movie, the viewer has a pretty good idea what's going to happen from the first frame onwards, and it provides little surprises. But it's amazing how a film can terrify you, by simply showing evil, not as a wise-cracking "bastard son of a thousand maniacs", but as a person, externally the same as everyone else, who walks the streets every day unnoticed. And does it ever terrify us.Don't expect your typical gory deaths involving teenage girls being turned into pizza and machetes sinking into kids in wheelchairs. But DO expect to be disturbed.