FEBRUARY 4, 2010
When I was writing my (still unproduced - anyone got lots of money? And a cable channel?) animated series Fright Reviews, I took the time to keep the meta-humor to an absolute minimum, because I was then and am still tired of “it’s a movie in a movie” type non-cleverness. So a movie like Splatter Movie (The Director's Cut - I am not sure if this is part of the actual title) is akin to my kryptonite, it’s (stay with me here), a movie about a film crew getting killed while making a movie about a film crew getting killed while making a movie. The fucking Bewitched movie was less of a head-scratcher.
The problem with these films (this is what, the 5th “horror movie film crew is killed” movie I’ve watched?) is that the filmmakers spend so much time trying to be clever that they forget to give you any characters worth giving a shit about, which in turns makes the overly convoluted plot all the more frustrating. Why should I spend so much time wrapping my head around the travails of people who annoy me? Especially when they begin commenting on their roles in the movie within a movie, which is supposed to be a meta-comment on this film (“I’m an actress playing an actress who is playing an actress...”). If a movie requires a flow-chart, then it’s probably too convoluted for its own good. And I say this as a man who has no trouble following the Saw films or 6 seasons of Lost.
It doesn’t help that the film looks and sounds like complete ass. By now I’ve come around to HD being used, but I can’t and WON’T condone using consumer grade digital video. Not only does it look terrible, but it just says to me that the filmmakers simply don’t give a shit about making a professional looking film. They can cry all they want about the expense of HD (or god forbid - FILM), but once again, I refuse to accept these excuses, because a. No one is forcing you to make Splatter Movie at all, let alone right now before you’ve raised enough money to afford professional equipment (and this is a filmmaker with 4 other films under her belt), and b. There are plenty of terrific independent horror films from the 60s and 70s that were shot on film. Even Super 8 looks better than DV. The fact is, it’s “easier” and thus 9 out of 10 of these productions never even considered using film (which doesn’t really cost that much more - and your film will likely turn a higher profit when they see it was shot by someone who actually gave a shit), and simply use the cost excuse to hide their laziness. Why load a camera when you can pop in a tape?
The audio is even worse though. I don’t care if your movie cost 12 cents - basic audio mixing can be done on Final Cut or AVID or Premiere Pro or whatever you used to edit together your film. Not only does the sound veer wildly from too low to too high, but whenever the “documentarian” asks a subject a question, it is painfully obvious that he/she was dubbed in over the original audio, yet no one on the post team opted to take all of 20 minutes to lay some of the same room tone under the question, lower the level on his voice to even them out, and crossfade the audio tracks so that you didn’t hear the audible “pop” when an overdubbed vocal section starts/stops. Christ, people - have some fucking pride in your work.
The sad thing about it is that director Amy Lynn Best and/or writer Mike Watt actually make some interesting points about horror films throughout the course of the film, to the extent that I wished they would simply drop the “real killer” aspect (which is often botched anyway - Best abandons the verite approach for the kill scenes so that we can see them) and simply make a real documentary about the nature of independent productions and the current state of horror. Debbie Rochon tells a (probably true) story about an on-set mishap in which she nearly lost her fingers, and it’s probably the scariest part of the entire movie, not to mention eye-opening. Best herself also makes a good point about how people turned to entertain themselves with horror films after 9/11, Katrina, etc, because there’s a comfort in the fact that they never really change, unlike our rapidly deteriorating world. A stretch? Sure, but it’s still far more compelling than any of the slasher stuff (that the tone veers from cheesy-comedy to insightful commentary doesn’t help.
There are a few extras, nothing particularly exciting. A 10 minute blooper reel (where I can’t even spot what the error was in several) and a few unnecessary deleted scenes compliment the “Companion Film”, which is a series of video blogs and stuff we’ve seen in the movie. Not quite sure what the point is, but suffice to say at 26 minutes, it doesn’t wear out its welcome and pretty much tells the exact same story, so I’d actually recommend watching that first, and if you think it’s interesting enough, watch the 90 min feature. Sort of like watching Dumplings in 3 Extremes, and then watching the full length version.
I dunno, B for effort and all that, and there are some interesting insights on the genre sprinkled throughout, but the half-assed presentation and tired “cleverness” of the approach kept me from liking it. That and the fact that the slasher’s mask sucked, but I dunno if that was supposed to be a joke or not.
What say you?