The Australian film Stop the Horror was, according to the makers, “designed to be virtually unwatchable”.
According to Go Gentle who commissioned the project, “The film is so confronting that it has a stop button on screen so viewers can bail out whenever they want”.
The trailer for the film was released last week and has since gone viral despite the fact most are struggling to endure the full 30 seconds.
And that’s precisely the point.
It’s not blood, or gore, or sexual depictions that has earned Stop the Horror an R rating.
Rather, it’s the vivid and authentic representation of human suffering. And its rawness makes an important political point.
“The film confronts viewers with a harrowing retelling of the true events surrounding one man’s traumatic death,” Go Gentle explained.
Greg Sims died of brain cancer 12 years ago, at 56 years old, and suffered torturous pain in his final days.
His family worked with film makers, including director Justin Kurzel best known for his work on Snowtown, based on serial killings that took place in South Australia.
Sims’ daughter, Nia, was heavily involved, and hoped to expose the horror of what occurs in a hospital bed when a terminally ill patient is denied an assisted death.
Campaign manager Paul Price said, “Make no mistake – the story of Greg Sims is real”.
Sims is pictured convulsing and screaming, while his family helplessly watch on, part of what can only be described as a living nightmare.
"Yes the film is distressing," Price said, "but we cannot turn away from the reality of the horrible suffering that will continue unless this law is passed."
The law he is referring to is the right to assisted dying for mentally competent adults who are living with a terminal illness such as cancer or motor neuron disease, which the Victorian government is preparing to debate in parliament.
Advocates are adamant that the law will not apply to people with a disability or mental illness, and a person who wants to access euthanasia will be required to make three separate requests over the course of 10 days.
There must be adult witnesses, at least one of whom will not receive benefits in a will.
There are reports that up to 75 per cent of Australians support the legalisation of euthanasia, and Price hopes that in telling the story of Greg Sims - without sparing any of the distressing details - it will "touch the conscience of Victorian MPs who will soon decide whether or not to stop the horror, to stop the suffering of those who are terminally ill and dying with pain that cannot be relieved."
For viewers of Stop the Horror, the only thing between us and deathly screams is a stop button.
But for people like Sims, it's not quite that simple.
If we want to end unnecessary suffering, then assisted death is the place to start.
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