Wowzers. The movie’s pretty faithful to the book, and, at times, is a little bit brilliant in terms of the cinematography. The book itself is a genuinely scary psychological thriller of one Patrick Bateman, who’s a serial killer and an investment banker.
When the book was originally published, it received a lot of critique due to the graphic sexual violence and blatant racism displayed by its characters. The sexualization of violence is handled really interestingly in the context of the text; it’s erotic but only in a surface sort of way. That is, there’s a lot of attention paid to textures and creepy details, but because Bateman reduces everything to that which he can consume (by purchase, destruction (like how a fire consumes), or intake (like by eating)) the sexualized violence includes the portrayal of Bateman’s gay-bashings, his animal abuse, and his rape/murder of the various female characters. The mutilation of these women — and their recreation as objects to be consumed and displayed — is one of Bateman’s driving obsessions.
What’s especially fascinating about this work is that Bateman’s psychosis (and his violent misogyny) isn’t especially remarkable. It’s treated as a logical extension of the kinds of conversations he and his friends are having every day. Indeed, Bateman’s actually a bit more boring than them; when he finally confesses, it’s laughed off as a joke, since who would believe BATEMAN was capable of something that interesting? Ellis’ writing style both flattens out the violence shown (emphasizing the equivalence between Bateman’s obsession with music and clothes with his obsession with grotesque violence towards women) and demonstrates the connections between Bateman’s day-to-day world and the process by which these types of consumption are made equivalent. Everything — even women — are different types of commodities that can be bought. Why would anyone be surprised that Bateman took this one step further, and actually treated them that way?
It’s a VERY creepy read — but, useful, I think, in illustrating the link between discursive misogyny and sexualized violence.