Smash Cut (2009)
Smash Cut is very strange – not Repo The Genetic Opera strange, not Visitor Q strange, but kooky strange in a way that is both disarming and charming. Some will find it schlocky and dribblingly inept, but it is fun, dipped in gore and has a very wry sense of knowing that holds it together solidly.
Able Whitman (David Hess) makes appalling horror films – the acting is poor, the script is terrible, but worst of all the gore effects are horribly unrealistic. After the vitriolic audience response to his latest film ‘Terror Toy’, Able is close to giving up filmmaking altogether when a car crash leads to a fresh corpse giving him inspiration. Deciding to use real body parts for his filming, Able heads down a dangerous and bloody road in order to create the realism he believes his fans would love. When a news reporter hires a private detective to look for her missing sister, Able’s work is compromised and he begins to take extreme measures to ensure his masterpiece of the macabre is filmed to perfection.
It’s difficult to work out whether Smash Cut is brilliantly written and acted or actually an appalling dung heap of blithering stupidity, the line is so blurred between the ridiculous and the deliberately shoddy – a horror film about a director who makes terrible horror films is always risking ridicule and accidental self-parody. Luckily a wry sense of humour throughout saves Smash Cut from being just another mediocre comedy horror – its kookiness is strangely watchable and likeable. It takes a while to set its tone, the soundtrack initially feels immensely intrusive, but after a while it sits comfortably within the bounds of this strange and bizarre little horror. At times you feel like you are watching a film within a film within another film and the line between reality and fiction is almost invisible. Some will find this uncomfortable and not enjoyable, while others will relish in its sly nods and cunning winks. I have pitched my tent in the latter camp, but can understand those who vehemently disagree.
Every character in Smash Cut has their own unique and bizarre voice, from the excessively eccentric private detective to Michael Berryman’s toupee-wearing film exec. Able is strangely likeable despite being a completely psychotic murderer who enjoys the odd spot of yoga before harpooning someone or chopping off a colleague’s hands. Porn-star Sasha Grey (previous work includes Ass Eaters Unanimous 19 and Bitchcraft 2) is surprisingly adept at playing the only character in the film you could possibly relate to, who finds herself deep in blood and madness when she gains a part in Able’s latest “masterpiece” only to realise it’s quite literally a part to die for.
Apart from one unrealistic eye-gouging from a clearly plastic face, the gore is well done and sly, and occasionally disquietingly unpleasant. So splatteringly silly are some scenes, the moments of slow torture are actually slightly disturbing.
Smash Cut is not for everyone and you must be prepared for how odd it is, but once you dip your toe into its world you’ll happily be immersed in the gruff madness that is Able Whitman’s world. Amusing, bloody, bizarre and enjoyable, Smash Cut is well worth a watch.