May 2, 2012
Celine Berti as: Camille
Olivier Burneau as: Cedric Dupuis
Mickael Collart as: Matthieu
Jerome Thevenet as: Arnaud
Nathalie Van Tongolen as: Aline
At the film’s beginning we are introduced to Cedric Depuis (Oliver Burneau). He is fledgling filmmaker, who has set out to make the most terrifying horror movie of all time. He tells us that this is the “making-off” of his project. He has shot everything and anything, no matter how trivial it might be, that is connected with the making of the film, including simply talking to his wife, Aline (Nathalie Van Tongolen), about it. She soon learns, much to her chagrin, that he has even quit his job to dedicate everything to this movie. The film he wants to make is about a group of friends, and how one of them goes insane and starts killing the others off, one by one. He hires his own friends as cast members. But, he becomes increasingly obsessed with the making of this film, deciding to not even sleep to keep his attention and time focused solely on the it. When he realizes that his friends’ acting is poor, and the film is not going the way he planned to he begins to snap.
He accuses his wife of sleeping with one of his cast members/ friends Arnuad (Jerome Thevenet). He ends up killing her and raping her dead body, all of which he allows to be caught on video. As he slips deeper into madness, he slowly decides to drop his original idea and kill his friends on camera, instead. He begins to off them one by one, in gruesome manners. He even tortures some of them. He also decides to add other increasingly sickening and vile acts, all in the hopes of making the most shocking horror film ever made.
Making Off is a French found-footage horror flick that aims to take the sub-genre into new and repulsive levels of extreme horror. Does it achieve that? Well yes, and no. The extreme aspects of it are certainly that. It’s disgusting and nasty with a decidedly vile feel. It’s rarely ever fun, and for the most part, it’s deadly serious. Though, there are moments of very dark, jet-black humor, some of which are perversely funny. While there is little to no suspense, there is a certain well handled quality that it has in its found-footage/behind the scenes style and feel.
The graphic acts of violence, which Cedric commits in Making Off, occur both on and off-camera. In some ways, the violence that does occur off-camera tends to works best. Your mind is allowed to go to the extreme as it as it fills in the blanks of what is happening. I think it is moments such as these were the film best achieves its desire of getting under your skin.
When the on-screen nastiness is shown, it’s sometimes hampered by the FX, which range from okay to amateurish. It’s in these moments that it’s most evident that the movie aims to sicken and shock its audience with some truly horrifying imagery. There is lots of it including: necrophilia, repulsive actions involving shit, oral sex with a decapitated head, necro-bestiality, all of which is thrown in on top of bludgeonings, a drowning, torture, and other bits of nastiness. It’s at its most grotesque moments that the movie becomes more and more of a freakshow and a “let me keep topping myself with gross-out actions” kind of thing instead of a sustained, quality film.
All that being said, for the most part the film is not boring. Unfortunately, its climax is way too long. It simply should have ended some minutes earlier than it actually does. At least once said ending does come, it is relatively satisfying. Why? Because, A. It was over and B. The final death occuring is cheer-worthy.
The acting from most of the cast is good. Our villain/narrator, as played by Oliver Burneau, is suitably disturbed and vile. While the rest of the actors are fairly believable in their roles and thankfully, their characters come off as likable. Celine Berti is a favorite cast member as her pretty smile and character’s sweet personality made her shine brightly in her scenes.
I’m quite an admirer and fan of French horror films. Making Off, though, isn’t the best example of them by any stretch of the means. But, it’s not a completely awful piece of filmmaking either. I give it credit for pushing the limits of a sub-genre that, at least as far as movies released in American cinema goes, usually play it very safe. But, it may very well also serve as a sort of shining example of why sometimes less is more, and too much is well, too much. This movie clearly emulates A Serbian Film. And, there are certainly aspects of it that I found disturbing, but just never on the level of the infamous, aforementioned movie. I also believe that technically speaking, Serbian is a better movie, though overall I think I enjoyed this movie a little more. Uneven, gruesome, over the top, and not for the easily offended, Making Off is recommended only for the curious or the seekers of extreme cinema. But, even this recommendation comes with a warning to keep your expectations somewhat low.