I think I first heard of Eric Stanze roughly two years ago when searching up information on the infamous independent sleazefest "I Spit On Your Corpse, I Piss On Your Grave", which essentially earned it’s name for borrowing a good portion of it’s title from another more popular film – as well as featuring a scene of some graphic penetration on the pornographic level. Stanze worked as a producer and editor of that film and although I have never seen that film, much like any horror geek on the internet I started reading more and more into it. I found that Stanze was also a filmmaker in his own right, with more respected work under his belt alongside one of the stars of the previously mentioned film: Emily Haack. Who stars in Scrapbook as well, and is also Stanze first feature and his breakout success. Stanze work, alongside Vogel and company over at Toe Tag Pictures have helped further the American underground "horror" scene tremendously in recent years. Opening many doors for viewers out there and generally pushing the envelope in terms of what is deemed to be acceptable and where the boundaries are. Scrapbook, although it may not contain a plethora of gore and violence – obliterates the boundaries of good or bad taste and simply defines itself on an entirely different level.
What I like about Scrapbook is that although it is certainly a film the is determined to push the envelope in the sleaze department, there is also a lot of focus on character development and narrative. As a fan of anything categorized as sleaze or horror, I’ve grown accustomed to filmmakers who could care less whether the audience even realizes the hair color of the leading parts much less what their motivations are – but Stanze gives purpose to the horrors that unfold in front of the camera and shows how a member of our society can simply slip into madness and depravity. Following the mindset of the madman who commits all of these horrors in front of us from childhood, we are shown how his mind has simply melted into a black hole of self loathing depression and angst towards the female-kind. Casting the lead villain not as a burly psychopath but as a slender and slightly geekish young person throws another wrench into our perception of what we are built to accept as an audience, and delivers a message to the audience that this isn’t going to be your average ‘serial killer’ film and that this is going to be a unique vision. That all may just be me over-analysing things, but regardless of whether it was intentional or not, the casting choice makes perfect sense for such a groundbreaking feature and gives the audience another small hurdle to make over to better comprehend the work.
The plot of Scrapbook bases itself around Emily Haacks’ character, a young victim of a psychopathic serial killer who has kidnapped her with the intentions of torturing, raping and eventually murdering her. The young woman however is far from willing to go without a fight, and tries her best several times to escape this locked house that has become her prison cell. Will she survive? I don’t know, why not watch the movie! Scrapbook is a disturbing slice of American underground cinema, and one of the new classics of the independent movement that has seen Murder Set Pieces, Slaughtered Vomit Dolls, August Underground, etc. come to a form of popularity. Although torture may have become vogue with mainstream cinema with films such as Hostel; Scrapbook and others push the envelope in far more twisted, disturbing and often times far more interesting and inventive ways. I recommend it highly for fans of independent horror looking for something more akin to Japanese art house splatter like the All Night Long series. You can find more information about Stanze and his filmography over at http://www.wickedpixel.com.