Ted Geoghegan and Stacy Davidson
Ashley Kay as Charlie
Peyton Wetzel as Scottyboy
Brent Himes as Wade
Julin as Miko
Jeremy Sumrall as The Beast
By James “Crypticpsych” Lasome
Charlie (Kay) and her various punky friends including Scottyboy (Wetzel), Miko (Julin), Jade (Melanie Donihoo), and Lolli (Krystal Freeman) have arrived at an abandoned warehouse where they appear ready to start setting up for a massive rave with the help of some slightly less punky associates like the fat, sleazy redneck, Wade (Himes). Because this is a slasher movie, the characters drink, they dance, they party, they have sex, etc. However, unbeknownst to them, the building isn’t exactly empty. You see, “The Beast” (Sumrall) is watching… and he, his massive sledgehammer, and his four “ghoul girls” are about to fill the punks’ night with bloodshed and gore.
That’s it. That’s all the relevant story we have in Sweatshop. Wanna know who “The Beast” is or where he came from or how the heck he got four decaying ghouls to do his bidding? Sorry, you should look in another movie. Looking for a film where it matters who these various punks are or how they relate to each other? Sorry, all of that’s totally pointless here. To clarify, it’s true that there’s some interplay between our cannon fodder punk leads, but none of its REALLY relevant as none of their relationships and interplay really have anything substantive to do with the endgame of the movie. Instead, the characters are just walking around with massive metaphorical targets on their backs waiting for the stars of the show to make their appearance: “The Beast”, his ghoul girls, and the inner components of the human body.
Sweatshop does a fantastic job on that front. Viewers will see things done with blood, body chunks, gore, impalements, beheadings, etc. that they may have seen before (in some cases) but have NEVER seen this much and on this grand a scale. All of these effects are also pulled off very effectively, believably, and, for the most part, fully on camera, something that’s becoming rarer these days.
However, a mound of grue and body parts isn’t enough to fix the greater whole. Without the gore,Sweatshop is horrid. The script is awful (“That little jizzrag’s as horny as a cunt with two pussies!”), the sound design is ugly, and its characters are flat and unimportant. The script and plot are filled with idiotic, annoying lines that make the characters themselves grating as well as gaping plot holes (HEY KIDS! Time to play “follow the mystic teleporting poisoned beer bottle”! How’d it get off the floor and into the cooler again…TWICE? I didn’t see anyone put it there!). This is not to even mention that the movie has a weird fixation with blowjobs given how many people get them, give them, and talk about them. In terms of sound, while the retro score is quite nice, whole other performances seem to have been redubbed, and people’s mouths have a tendency to not match what comes out of them.
As for the characters, sure, there are little things that separate one character from another… Scottyboy has an apparent fear of sexual bodily fluids and a massive pointless mohawk, Miko is inordinately hyper and has a hairstyle best described as “weaves made of recording tape”, and so on. All the characters are different, but they don’t develop during the film. As a result, the viewer could not possibly care less about any of them or the wildly variance in the quality of actors portraying them. Some might say “well it’s a slasher, that’s kind of the point”. To those people I say, yeah, but there has to be ONE character that you give a damn about. Otherwise, who’s going to be the survivor? Here, because the viewer has no one to pull for, they don’t care who survives and never get fully attached to the actors or the movie as a whole. Thus, “The Beast” becomes the star which, admittedly, may have been the intention.
However, this brings us back to the gore. Again, I like the gore and do think it’s enough reason to see the film at least once. The problem with Sweatshop’s gore, though, is that it crosses a line late in the movie and goes from “well, I guess I’ll kill this annoying punk” to “I wonder what the most shocking way to kill this character is”. One gets the feeling that the director knew that people get desensitized to violence when it’s continually thrown at them and decided that more shocking violence would fix that problem. When “The Beast” has some victims cornered, for example, rather than just kill them he decided “hell, I’ll just castrate this one, fashion S&M gear out of it, and torture these folks some more!”. Why? Shocking violence for sake of being shocking doesn’t come across as shocking. It comes across as desperate and hurts the final product.
Overall, Sweatshop is insanely good at flinging blood, body parts, and various assorted chunks around. Its problem is that it’s terrible at virtually everything else. See it for some of the best practical gore effects work you’ll ever see in an indie slasher or any slasher, for that matter. Just don’t expect to care about anything else in Sweatshop at all.