Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Cut Shoot Kill: They’re Dying to Make a Horror Movie

This film must have had some awkward casting calls. Someone had to explain to applicants it is the story of a group of psychotic horror movie-makers who are killing off their cast-members for real. Don’t worry, it will be a perfectly safe shoot in remote Hill Country, PA. Yet, they obviously had no trouble getting thesps to sign on. Likewise, the scarcity of acting gigs causes Serena Brooks to overlook a lot of weirdness in screenwriter-director Michael Walker’s Cut Shoot Kill (trailer here), which releases today on VOD.

Brooks is not crazy about doing a grisly slasher movie, but at least she is the star. She will also appear opposite Blake Stone, a semi-famous former child-star. However, the rest of her co-stars seem to mysteriously vanish immediately after their final scenes. Stone assures her the producers are just extremely cost-conscious and the director Alabama Chapman is unusually intense, but Brooks soon suspects there is some involuntary method-acting going on.

To its credit, CSK does not waste our time with fake metaness. We won’t have to sit through interminable it’s-all-just-a-fake-except-its-really-real switcheroos. No “buts” about it, Chapman and his crew are truly killing the supporting players. Fortunately, Brooks is the star, but her predecessor’s fate is not so reassuring.

Walker offers some sly commentary on the actor’s myopically neurotic mindset, but in general, CSK is pretty standard stuff. As such, it is a rather dramatic departure from his issue-oriented thriller, The Maid’s Room. Although less ambitious, CSK is far more honest about what it is and what it means.

As Brooks, Alexandra Socha makes a decent final girl. Phil Burke plays off her quite effectively as the unrepentantly cynical Stone. He easily gets the film’s best line and makes the most of it. Alex Hurt is appropriately intense as the murderously driven Chapman, but most of the rest of the homicidal crew are interchangeable stock characters.

CSK has its merits, but they are not enough to boost the film to the next level up from exploitation programmer. Watchable but not special enough to recommend, Cut Shoot Kill releases today on VOD.