Directed by: Kimble Rendall
Written By: Dave Warner
Starring: Molly Ringwald, Frank Roberts, Kylie Minogue, and Jessica Napier
Reviewed by: Wes R.
"You know, horror movies aren’t that bad Mr. Lossman. You think about it. They can be cathartic for young kids. I mean, it’s all about letting go of your fear. Well, you go to the movies and there is a psycho killer out in the bush woodchipping people. Suddenly, the things you’re scared of don’t seem so important anymore... like, the craters on your face, the size of your ass, or will that cute guy ask you out. That sort of stuff. Horror movies put that into perspective. When you think about it like that, they’ve actually got kind of a social value."
In the wake of Scream’s colossal success, filmmakers from all over the globe were frothing at the mouth to get in on the next coming of the slasher film. Films that could be made on the cheap, with minimal script, minimal effects, and minimal talent, who wouldn’t be wanting to be in the slasher biz once again? One film that carved its way video store shelves and thus into the awareness of horror fans everywhere was the minor Australian production, Cut.
Sometime in the late 1980s, a film crew is working on a slasher film titled “Hot Blooded”, in which the killer seeks revenge after being burned and disfigured years earlier. During the filming, the director and one of the film’s stars are brutally murdered and production is halted. Years later, to recoup his investment, the film’s producer attempts to finish the film... only to be electrocuted mysteriously. A showing of the film years after that yields a mysterious murder in the theater. Is the film cursed? That’s what the rumors say. However, when a local Australian film school class gets to choose what film they want to do for their final, what do they choose? Of course... to finish Hot Blooded. Almost immediately strange things begin happening to all involved. Will the dedicated crew finish the film or will the curse claim yet another dozen victims? Talk about “development hell”.
Cut is a solid, if unremarkable effort. It is technically sound and competently made, however, the trouble is that it just doesn’t stand out. The killer is dull, none of the killings are particularly creative, and there aren’t a lot of memorable set pieces. The weakest part of many a slasher flick, the cast here is actually surprisingly potent and enjoyable. I especially liked the spunky producer, played by Jessica Napier. Molly Ringwald, arguably the film’s most notable cast member, actually plays against type as a feisty, self-important Hollywood actress. Though she was heavily promoted on the video box, singer Kylie Minogue's role is limited to the film's opening 10 minutes or so. Most of the cast is made up of unknowns and they turn in decent performances, lending credence to their roles of inexperienced film students.
Blood and gore is at a minimum, I am afraid. We do see a few squishy bits in a severed head, a clipped tongue and more than a couple of slit throats, but none of it is very graphic... thus losing a few points from the gorehound in me. Also in short supply is nudity. A couple of foggy shower moments but nothing to show for it. There has been some debate as to whether there is a longer, more graphic cut of the film, but as it stands now, the only one available on DVD in most of the world is the R rated version. Scarman (the nickname of the killer in the film’s fictional movie-within-a-movie) wears a slightly spooky mask, but is otherwise plain and un-interesting. By the end of the movie, however, I was pleasantly surprised that the resolution wasn’t that of your usual mystery slasher but instead something more along the lines of Wes Craven’s New Nightmare. Not quite original, but for a slasher film, this did seem fairly fresh. The execution of Scarman, though, is dull. He is never truly menacing or eerie. His presence is never really felt or feared by the audience. The spooky mask and rather unique weapon (gardening shears with another blade inexplicably welded to its top) come across as yet another of the film's wasted opportunities.
The film does manage a few creepy moments and spooky camera set-ups due to the secluded location which most of the film takes place in, however, these few bits aren’t as effective as they could have been. I did like the music score. A throwback mix of piano and synth is always a welcome thing to a slasher film in my book. Its not that this is a bad film at all. It has a lot going for it. I just feel it pulled a few too many of its punches to be completely enjoyable and entertaining. The vital ingredients are all here but the chef doesn't quite get it right. What the film gets right most of all though, is again, in its cast interaction. The cast is so believable and fun that you care about their plight and are actually interested in seeing them attempt to finish "Hot Blooded". The problem is, we don't really get to see them filming much of it, because Scarman's murderous activity interrupts filming almost immediately.
Available in on DVD from Trimark as a solo release and as part of a double-feature with The St. Francisville Experiment, the film has been given the anamorphic widescreen treatment but little else in the way of extras. The film’s heart is in the right place, but the finished result isn’t entirely a successful one. Cut is an entertaining, but strictly mediocre effort. Those involved seem to genuinely have a great affection for the horror genre, but this one is nothing to write home about. It is technically superior to other foreign post-Scream cash-ins, but doesn’t really have anything unique of its own (unless you count Scarman's weapon). Director Kimble Rendall hasn't directed anything of note since, but has acted as second unit director on such blockbusters as The Matrix Reloaded, Ghost Rider, and I, Robot. All in all, Cut is far from being the worst slasher movie ever made. It's just not terribly unique. As a post-Scream slasher, it does mention a few of our favorite slashers by name, but the film never delves too deeply into self-reference. Instead, this is a slasher more born out of the old-school way of thinking... where cliches are a way of life. Nothing wrong with that at all if you have an evening to kill. Rent it!
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