Amy Lynn Best
Amy Lynn Best as Amy Lee Parker
Tom Sullivan as Himself
Debbie Rochon as Herself
Nikki McCrae as Carolyn
By James “Crypticpsych” Lasome
Amy Lee Parker (Best) is a low-budget indie horror filmmaker making a slasher film on location at Pennsylvania’s Hundred Acres Manor haunted house. Her idea is to film the process of making her film, “Tesseract”, a horror film about the making of a horror film (confused yet?). She even brings in Scream Queen Debbie Rochon and Evil Dead’s Tom Sullivan to play themselves! As production starts up, she sends the crew around to film themselves preparing and picking up b-footage while she films the main pieces for the film. However, there isn’t just one masked “Grendel” villain wandering around the set. One of them is a fantastically funny one being filmed by Parker. The other has developed a tendency to take out the actors and crew…
To be fair, tons of movies have been made in the self-aware, “meta” style. Scream, of course, is most famous. However, the differences between Best’s film and other similar films are the style in which Splatter Movie The Directors Cut is filmed and how smart the script is. For the majority of the movie, the film is more of a documentary (with subtitles appearing to identify characters) about the making of the film and about horror in general. Coming in blind at these points, a viewer could be forgiven for thinking they were watching a DVD special feature interview or behind the scenes footage with the actors playing exaggerated versions of themselves. This works to the movie’s advantage as some of the “interviews” and “discussions” are very smart, pointed criticisms of gender politics in the genre (both in front of and behind the camera). Tom Sullivan and Debbie Rochon’s performances deserve particular praise as they are clearly having fun (a great goofy scene in which Sullivan puts two masks on his hands and plays with them, for instance) as well as discussing the genre and things from their own lives (Rochon discusses the event that mangled her hand when people were unsafe on set; Sullivan talks about just how much he did on the Evil Deadsets). All of this helps lend Splatter Movie The Directors Cut a great sense of realism so that, even though you KNOW you’re watching a movie, it’s believable as the comical, satiric documentary it’s also trying to be.
The blood and gore in the film is interestingly handled. At first, the effects are very quick and don’t seem to be too impressive. However, much as Splatter Movie The Directors Cut progresses toward its final act where the line between documentary and slasher blurs, the gore and violence do too. As the movie goes on, the “Grendel” murders people with axes, rips someone’s jaw off with a hook, and more. Most of these later effects are decently done. Could they all necessarily make it in your usual KNB effects extravaganza? Overall, no, but they don’t need to. For a low-budget indie film like this, they’re more than enough with some (like the jaw rip) going above and beyond the film’s scale.
The acting in Splatter Movie The Directors Cut is mostly quite good with Best, Sullivan, and Rochon stealing the show. Best believably runs the set and has fun with the film while taking the role of director seriously, helping the believability of the project as a whole. Sullivan and Rochon, as previously mentioned, deliver great performances grounded in the real world. Rochon in particular (as well as Watt’s script) should be commended for a smart, hilarious scene that I will not spoil but will say attacks a particular genre trope to perfection. Finally, most of the supporting cast is believable as indie-film actors in their interview segments. All in all, a well-acted ensemble performance.
Admittedly, there are some issues with Splatter Movie The Directors Cut though. For one, while the film avoids the usual indie film problem of bad dubbing and looping, the audio does vary in quality wildly in terms of background noise. The musical score is only average, though a great song by Bill Moseley’s Cornbugs does play during the credits. On rare occasions, the handheld cinematography can get a little disorienting. While I had no problem with motion sickness, I can see how someone who doesn’t like that sort of technique would. The video quality also sometimes varies from
camera to camera, though that is to be expected given the plot conceit of multiple cameramen. Finally, and probably the most harmful flaw, the final third of Splatter Movie The Directors Cut gets a little bit confusing in terms of who’s really being killed and who isn’t. It doesn’t kill the film by any means, but it can distract the viewer. I should also point out there were a few moments where I found myself wondering who was shooting what we were seeing and why they weren’t stopping to help.
Overall, Splatter Movie The Director’s Cut is a good, original take on the meta-horror style. Best and Watt have created a believable horror satire out of great performances and an original script. It has a few flaws from its low-budget nature, but they aren’t severe enough to stop me from recommending the final product.