"They just have to finish the film... before it finishes them"
When the director of horror flick Hot Blooded is slain during production, the film is shelved never to be finished. Twelve years later, a group of budding film students decide to finish the film and enlist the help of their college teacher, who worked on the film, and track down the lead actress to reprise a role. According to legend, the film is cursed and no sooner has production recommenced at the original site, the murders begin again.
Cut is an Australian teen horror and one of many efforts to duplicate the Scream formula in a post-modern slasher era. You know the sort of film I’m talking about and some of Cut’s promotional posters and home video artwork just smacks of that late 90s horror era with all of the cast featured in headshots against a black background. Part Scream (and it’s sequels) and part Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, only without any of the intelligence and wit, Cut is a rather lacklustre generic slasher which is billed as horror-comedy though I can’t recall laughing at any single moment and could easily have crawled out of the late 80s, such is the dated nature of everything on show.
I don’t suppose you can be too harsh on such an obvious cash-in as its evident what sort of film you’re going to end up with and Cut doesn’t really disappoint in those respects. It’s got a bank of generic characters, plenty of obvious genre tropes and a bucket of blood desperate to be splashed around with not an original or creative bone in its body: the killer is bland, the kills are not memorable enough and there’s little to no tension and suspense. Cut does everything competently enough from a technical stance, but it just goes through the motions of slasher filmmaking and is nowhere near as clever as it thinks it is.
The film-within-a-film is hardly imaginative, less so when you do what Cut does with the idea which is virtually nothing save for the big plot twist. Characters aren’t self-aware enough to know what is going on around them. There’s no smart humour, no perversions of genre tropes and everything runs like clockwork. Take for instance the classic twist of the actor playing the killer in the film-within-a-film and the real killer both walking around inside the house, both dressed up and masked up so that the other characters don’t know who is who. Cut does nothing with this at all, one brief moment of promise aside when they cross paths with each other, but what could have been a novel sequence of interactions with other characters ends up rather quickly a one-sided affair.
The Scarman killer looks pretty decent, with boiler suit, creepy white mask and a nice pair of modified garden shears to complement the look. Its enough of a horrific mash-up of Michael Myers and Freddy Krueger to get away with it. But he’s not scary or threatening in the slightest thus taking away the majority of the threat he’s meant to pose. It’s another wasted opportunity for Cut to really make something of its limited ingredients but one which it seems happy to just let float on by. There is a decent body count, but the kills are routine and most look like they’ve been victims of censor cuts. There are rumours of an uncut version out there but I don’t think some extra gore would really make up for the rest of the film’s limitations.
Cut takes a puzzling twist in its final third when we find out the origins of the Scarman. It’s here where the film both proceeds to completely bomb out but also win some marks for originality. The killer becomes some Freddy Krueger-like talker, complete with pizza-face beneath the mask, whereas the previous silent Michael Myers-style subtlety had worked better for the first half of the film. But it’s with this supernatural twist where the film at least shows it’s trying something outside the box – because of the sudden abrupt nature of the twist, it’s almost as if the writers just thought of it at the last minute. It’s a twist which could have worked had they laid some earlier groundwork and one which will divide anyone who watches it. I didn’t think it was too bad, definitely something which caused me to double take for a bit and draw me out of my boredom.
Pop singer Kylie Minogue (Australia’s most famous export?) is highly advertised but she’s been given the ‘Drew Barrymore’ role from Scream and if you know what I’m talking about, then more credit to you. Molly Ringwald, famous as one of the female ‘Brat Packers’ from the 1980s, takes the other top billing. Given that she’s had no real career to think of since The Breakfast Club made her a household name, the fact she’s playing a bit of a washed-up actress looking to recapture former glory is slightly ironic. The rest of the cast are pretty terrible, given some flimsy characters to play around with until their time to die hits. A few have some interesting back stories and potential, but the script doesn’t really care about that enough to do anything with it.
Everything seems to have been dumbed down so much for the post-Scream audience that the humble slasher formula, not exactly the lengthiest list of things to do, has been watered down to almost nothing in Cut. At least the fact that it was Australian made and not another generic American 90s post-Scream slasher gives it a partial pass.
Director(s): Kimble Rendall
Writer(s): Dave Warner (story), Mark Lamprell (story)
Actor(s): Molly Ringwald, Frank Roberts, Kylie Minogue, Geoff Revell, Jessica Napier, Sarah Kants
Duration: 82 mins