Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Justifiably overlooked DVD of the month - SNUFF MOVIE

The first ten minutes and I'm thinking, "Okay, this is a really cheesy, low-budget horror movie set in spoooky Middle Europe in the eighteenth century, starring Joroen Krabbe." But just as it becomes irredeemably kitsch and gory but, natch, NOT scary, it flips into another movie starring the same actors. So then, for the next ten minutes I'm thinking, "Okay, this is a really low-budget, badly acted, poor-taste re-enactment of the Manson family murder of the pregnant Sharon Tate." But then the movie flips into a modern-day documentary about the murders, being narrated by, of all people, Nick Broomfield. The doc explains that after the murders, the bereaved husband went into hiding and never made another horror movie again. But then the movie flips AGAIN, and the director is casting for a secretive little hi-def movie re-enacting the murder of his wife. To which end he gets the actors alone in a house that is wired up like a reality TV show and taunts them with pictures of their respective murders. But is it really a reality TV show? Is it a provocative, incisive, social commentary? Or is this all just an over-blown, twisty, ridiculous, poorly shot pile of wank?

Frankly, SNUFF MOVIE is one of the most grotesquely misconceived movies I've seen since THE GREAT ECSTASY OF ROBERT CARMICHAEL and similarly hypocritical in that it seeks to criticise society's love of exploitation while simultaneously exploiting the female cast. It's also one of the most poorly shot movies I've seen since TOP SPOT. Worst of all, it's never intellectually challenging, perceptive or even downright scary.

The most disappointing part is that Bernard Rose has directed some astoundingly good films - from horror movies CANDYMAN and PAPERHOUSE to the modern tragedy ivansxtc. In ivansxtc. Rose perfectly matches the medium - grainy, shallow hi-def video, to a story about narcissistic Hollywood types. He is in perfect control of the medium and creates a visually captivating, emotionally damaging movie. Rose was clealy all loved-up by HD video after this experience. He's on record as saying how happy he is that video has freed auteurs from the vulgar constraints of the studio system. But the fact is that no studio supervision can sometimes be as damaging as too much. No-budget movies have no-one to answer to but the director's better judgement. If the director exercises no judgement, we are in dire straits indeed.

SNUFF MOVIE UK played Edinburgh 2005 and London 2006. It is now available on DVD.

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