DIRECTOR: Michael Walker
WRITER: Michael Walker
Serena Brooks is an ambitious young actress who has just been cast as the lead in a small independent horror film. The production is filming out in the backwoods. When she arrives on set, she discovers that the production is far removed from the closest town, and there is no reception or internet on location. As production begins filming, she quickly realises that the crew aren't at all who they appear to be. Her chance at her big break may be her really fighting for survival against a group of backwoods filmmakers creating their very own snuff film.
When I had initially finished Cut Shoot Kill, I was left a little unimpressed. I thought that while the film took an exciting approach to the found-footage genre, it felt like something was still missing. I couldn't put my finger on it. I sat there for days with the intention of giving the movie a five out of ten. It was until I started to write the review that I thought that maybe, the positives outweigh the negatives here. While flawed, this movie felt like it wasn't like anything I've seen all year.
I and the found-footage genre have a hate and love relationship. It's kind of like the zombie genre. The two sub-genres are so overly saturated with content that it's hard to find something that truly blows me away. I see that a lot of filmmakers attempt to try and bring something fresh to their movies even if minimal. Sadly, the minimum is not really enough these days. We need to see something new. Something that really surprises or even shocks me.
What I liked first and foremost about Cut Shoot Kill is that this wasn't supernatural, aliens or a documentary crew filming a haunted location. This was about a film crew working on a horror movie production and things get really dark. They just so happen to be shooting the entire massacre which lends itself to the found-footage sub-genre. I think that while there are a lot of moments that playoff tropes that we've all seen a million times in these films, I still feel that it was a somewhat fresh perspective.
Another element that I enjoyed in Cut Shoot Kill was that unlike a lot of these found-footage films; this plays out like an almost slasher narrative. A lot of the supernatural or extraterrestrial found-footage films only really start to go haywire in their third act. This spent most of it's running time dishing out the violence. It was never once boring as there was someone always being killed off after the crew and cast introductions. It is when the twist is revealed, it turns into an all-out bloodbath.
I think Cut Shoot Kill also did a pretty decent job in throwing the audience off of what was happening throughout the movie. When the cast starts to get killed off, I honestly had no idea if it was actually real or not. You don't know if its part of the movie within a movie or they are really being killed. The story starts to play with your mind as the characters disappear and reappear. I think while it's a clever plot device, it may also confuse people as it did with myself. I wasn't sure if the movie was playing across two timelines at certain moments of the film.
Now we come to the problems that I had with the film. The characters are thoroughly unlikeable. Basically, every character is either unsavoury or stupid. That includes our leading actress. The one time that I appreciated a person was the blonde supporting actress who refuses to take her bra off in her shower scene after already signing her contract. Being that the current climate in Hollywood is ripe with actresses and actors calling out their abusers or those who take advantage. I thought that this scene was very topical and held a lot of weight.
The leading actress who you are meant to root for is so annoying in the early scenes as she is pissed off that she can't call or use the internet. Like an actor who is refused entry into a party and yells out 'Do you know who I am?'. She is grating. The plot also tacks on this ending where the leading actress, who has spent the whole film fighting for survival is made to essentially go against everything that came before it to give us a dark, gut-punch ending and it really didn't sit well with me. I know what it's trying to say, but I'd have taken a kickass final girl ending over the one we are given.
Lastly, we come to the blood, gore, tension, and suspense. I'd talk about the acting, but because I found the character choices and personalities tedious, I will choose to focus on the carnage candy. This movie delivers on blood and gore. Towards the end, people are repeatedly stabbed and shot. The red stuff flies all over the place, and I really enjoyed the violence. As for the tension and suspense, I thought it was decent. It's no scary, and there are no real jump scares, but there are several scenes where the suspense gets ramped up.
DEATH TOLL: 15
BLOOD AND GORE:
- Men are repeatedly stabbed and have their throats slashed.
- A woman stabs and shoots a man with a shotgun.
- A makeup artist pranks the cast while covered in blood.
- Fingers and body parts are found in jars.
- A girl is stabbed in the stomach.
- A police officer is stabbed in the back.
- Intestines are seen on a chopping block.
- A man steps on a shard of glass.
- A woman slices a man's throat.
- A woman repeatedly stabs a man.
- A man is shot in the chest.
- A man is stabbed in the leg and chest.
- A woman stabs herself in the stomach.
- A dead body is seen in a grave.
- Two makeup artists are shot with a shotgun.
- A man is hit in the head with a plank of wood and set on fire.
- A man's arms and legs are cut off, and he's found on a slab.
- A man is stabbed in the back and breaks his neck falling down the stairs.
- A man is found in the boot of a car covered in blood.
- Men are shot in the stomach with an arrow.
Cut Shoot Kill takes the found-footage genre and adds a neat little snuff film twist on it. When I first finished the movie, I wasn't sure how I felt about it. But as I thought more about it and went on to think about the current climate of found-footage. I soon realised this did just enough to set itself apart from the rest. This is not a perfect film by any means and has a lot of flaws, but with some solid gore and clever tweaks, it was enough to give it a pass.