Snuff Movie
2/5 aka: Snuff
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir-scr Bernard Rose
with Jeroen Krabbé, Lisa Enos, Hugo Myatt, Joe Reegan, Teri Harrison, Sharif, Alastair Mackenzie, Tudor Necula, Lyndsey Marshal, Catalina Harabagiu, Viorica Voda, Andrew Tiernan
release UK 27.Oct.06
05/UK Lionsgate 1h32

No guts no glory: Krabbé and Enos (above), Sharif and Voda (below)


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snuff Offbeat writer-director Rose (Candyman, Ivansxtc) dips into gonzo horror with this entertainingly nutty movie. Although the over-complicated, gimmicky story never really works.

Boris Arkadin (Krabbé) is a filmmaker who specialises in terror. A horrific Manson family-like incident has left him a recluse in his isolated mansion with his disabled son (Necula) and a loyal assistant (Myatt). Now he has invited a group of young actors (Enos, Reegan, Harrison and Sharif) home to prepare his next project, a snuff film that makes use of surveillance cameras and the internet. But is this a rehearsal or the movie itself? And is he really planning to kill his cast on camera?

There's a camp tone to this film that, from the beginning, allows us to enjoy it for the over-the-top silliness, even if the plot never comes together. Rose strains for the feel of a Ken Russell movie, with the bizarre manor house setting, sex-mad characters and blood-sprayed walls, plus of course the prologue's gothic horror and groovy 1970s drug haze. But it's extremely fragmented, lurching from comedy to horror to documentary. And Rose pulls the rug out from beneath us so many times that by the end we don't believe anything.

Along the way, though, there are some clever moments, mainly in the film's observations about ubiquitous CCTV cameras, internet voyeurism and how people are willing to do just about anything for fame. So it's a pity Rose never finds a consistent voice for the story. Is this a mystery thriller or a wacky spoof? Is he making fun of misogyny and sadism or indulging in them? Is the final scene meant to echo Russell or Kubrick, or is it pretentious rubbish?

Unfortunately, the balance tips against him, because the film isn't scary enough to be a horror film and it's not funny enough to be a black comedy. It feels like a random collection of grisly scenes connected only by Krabbé's gleefully macabre performance. Some viewers will love this cinematic oddity, because Rose certainly has cool tricks up his sleeve. But all his post-modern wittiness ends up as a clunky mess.

cert 18 themes, language, violence, drugs, sexuality 7.Sep.06

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© 2006 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall