The controversial film karla was unanimously panned on opening weekend.
But while male reviewers claimed the scenes of torture by schoolgirl murderers Karla Homolka and Paul Bernardo "show restraint," female reviewers were repulsed.
Has the bar on how we define screen violence been lowered?
"Joel Bender directs the scenes of sexual torture with a reserve normally confined to network TV," writes the Globe & Mail's Rick Groen.
The Sun's Bruce Kirkland offers that "Karla is actually restrained, less violent, less sexualized and less sensational than the fictional Hostel, a current horror-slasher hit."
The Star's Geoff Pevere seems comfortable with the fact that "all of the atrocities take place offscreen, and there's nothing to be seen or heard."
Not so for the Globe's Lynn Crosbie, who writes that she "left at the scene in which the blindfolded Leslie Mahaffy is seen crying to go home to her little brother."
Why the gender split?
Though it's true some of the most despicable action in Karla happens off-screen, the missing bits are cleverly implied by sounds, tear-streaked faces and clothing left askew.
It's hard to watch and even harder to stomach than the graphic rapes in two other films that come to stand out: the gang-banging of Teena Brandon in Boys Don't Cry and Aileen Wuornos's horrific rape in Monster.
In those films, the rape victims are the protagonists, and we experience the dramatic impact of the violation as part of their story. The violence in Karla is the worst kind gleeful torture without a context.
Onscreen hitting, beating, stabbing and shooting are readily recognized as violence.
But violence is any physical force intended to hurt, damage or kill. It's more subtle yet equally malicious to show a person tied up, blindfolded and rendered helpless while her captors "play" with her and she tries to learn quickly how to "play" back because her life depends on it.
Knowing it's a true-life depiction heightens the effect of the violence. The Bernardo character's enjoyment of filming the crimes makes it even more sickening.
While I originally saw no reason for the making of Karla all reviewers have noted the mediocre script, lack of character insight and nothing new to learn from the story I now see that it can act as a powerful reminder of how we as a society define what constitutes violence toward women.