A dog is placed into a microwave in the torture-filled thriller Scorned, which might put off some potential viewers. Actress Annalyne McCord, who describes herself as an animal lover, commented on the difficulties of filming the scene in a recent interview with JoBlo.com: "Obviously we had a little plastic dog standing in for the real dog, but we had to put the real dog into the microwave and shut the door for a second, it was hard for me. Obviously, that's a whole 'nother level of crazy."
To put the scene in context, McCord plays a woman who has learned that her fiancé (Billy Zane) has been cheating on her with her best friend (Viva Bianca). She lures them both to an isolated location, where she exacts her revenge, and that includes the threat of cooking her best friend's supposedly beloved little dog in a microwave oven if they don't do what she says.
(Warning: Clip is NSFW.)
Does the inclusion of such a scene take the movie's horrors to another, more disturbing level? In a recent article for Fandango's House of Screams entitled "The Most Disturbing Horror Movies," Perri Nemiroff commented on the trailer for Scorned, which includes that scene:
"This new trailer for the upcoming release Scorned, on the other hand, is using animal violence as a device, and it absolutely infuriates me. Based on the promo, the plot of this one is bound to be frustratingly familiar and the acting laughably melodramatic. There’s no judging a final feature by its trailer, but you certainly can judge the choice to include the scene during which AnnaLynne McCord pops her friend’s pup into a microwave. You can’t earn something like that in two minutes and because this trailer doesn’t earn it, it’s the ultimate turnoff and I know I will deliberately avoid this movie come February so I never have to see it again."
Back in 2011, horror thriller The Roommate provoked the ire of many, including film critic and horror expert Scott Weinberg, who noted that a kitten was killed by being placed in a clothes dryer, and yet the movie still received a less-restrictive PG-13 rating:
"I'm not saying that films should not 'kill animals' if that's what the filmmakers deem necessary. Recent movies like Dogtooth (which was not rated by the MPAA) and Drag Me to Hell (also rated PG-13, which is another farce) have had 'kitty kills' that work precisely how the filmmakers want them to. We are talking about fiction, after all, so of course animals should be held to the same mortality standard as human characters. (Context also has a lot to do with it; in Drag, Sam Raimi kills an animal in a broad, carnival-show, almost comic-booky way. In Roommate, the kitten is sacrificed in stupidly mercenary fashion simply because the film has no humans worth caring about. Classy, eh?)
"My point is simply this: any film that offers such a casual and mindless piece of 'shock value' animal cruelty should be rated R. Why? Open your newspapers is why. Stories of animal cruelty run rampant in cities all over the world. And while I certainly do not subscribe to the opinion that 'movies are to blame for a violent society,' I absolutely believe that a 7-year-old kid should be prevented from seeing a kitty tossed into a dryer. And I bet a good number of adults would also like to know if a film offers that type of material."
According to the MPAA, Scorned is "Rated R for violence including torture, sexual content and language." No specific mention is made of animal cruelty. As we've noted, however, the advance promotional materials have not hidden the fact that an animal is placed in peril, so viewers who may be disturbed by such content can make up their own minds as to whether they want to see the movie. It's out today on DVD and Blu-ray, and is also available via various Video On Demand platforms.