The Cutting Room (2010) – By Josh Samford

I was contacted to review The Cutting Room by one of its co-producers, a very cordial and talented director in his own right, Mr. Mike Muscal who I hold a lot of respect for. His work on the comedy Little *ucker, which I thoroughly enjoyed, won me over as a viewer. So when he contacted me about a review for The Cutting Room, I was all on board! Although he didn’t direct the film himself, knowing the level of talent that Muscal has, I was willing to give anything he was attached to a fair shot. Although The Cutting Room is an indie horror that is very much in the same vein as a lot of the low budget slashers that currently populate the indie market, I am willing to forgive much of its familiarity due to the few interesting twists that keep this no-budget horror from falling into the pit of abysmal genre cliches. Travis Ammons acted as the writer and director for his film, and although it operates in much the same routine as one might expect that it does once I get to the synopsis, but what tends to separate the film from many of the titles in this field is the meta-qualities of the script and the dark comedy that permeates the film. It isn’t a movie that will prove to be for all audiences, as it is so incredibly low budget that most audiences might be turned off at the aesthetic level alone, but for all of its detriments I can also see the good in it and forgiving audience members may feel the same way.

Jordan is an independent filmmaker working on a low budget slasher film. His film is a meta-product that takes place as a behind the scenes look at a pornographic film set that features a homicidal lunatic running free and killing many members of the cast and crew. As things have went along, Jordan has been successful in most areas except for one: the special effects! The death sequences simply haven’t been impressive! With time ticking by, he turns to his editor Edie, also known as "Edit", who is willing to take on the situation all by herself in an attempt to impress Jordan who she secretly loves. Unknown to the rest of the cast, their lovely Edit is also a cold blooded murderer and her plan for the new special FX shots includes using real life volunteers to have their final moments forever included in this low budget horror title! Now, Edit plans to kidnap cast members who have finished their shots or random people off the streets who look vaguely similar to the stars of the movie, in order to finish this movie with the brutal death scenes that it so aptly requires. Will her plan work or will the rest of the crew catch on in this case of art imitating life.

The biggest element that adds something refreshing to The Cutting Room is the use of the movie-within-movie structure. Granted, we have seen this done before in several titles but it is a device that is so rarely used that there are many areas left to be explored. With The Cutting Room, we are consistently thrown around into different scenery within the film and the audience’s cinematic equilibrium is left in shock. Within one scene, we find ourselves watching the porno-slasher combo (the movie within a movie, that takes place within OUR movie) and then after a poorly made death sequence, we flash back to "reality" in order to see the director and crew complaining about the special FX. The sequence is repeated throughout the film, but manages to avoid being repetitious by the ingenuity and the comedic power of the film. The comedy is probably the second most noticeable claim that the movie likely has. Many of the porn scenes are quite funny and produce some of the best lines throughout the movie, but there is an undercurrent of silliness that seems to bubble out within much of the film. The cast all seem to be in on the joke and although projects like this usually feature relatively poor performances, the cast here all seem to be very familiar with their craft. A movie like this doesn’t call for a great roller coaster of emotions, but the lines all seem real and the cast members (especially from the leads) truly seem to slip into their characters. This turned out to be a very nice change of pace for a no-budget indie film.

The Cutting Room isn’t really a "great" film, and I doubt many would argue against me on this fact. It generally lacks a lot of the visual style and panache one might hope for. This comes from the low budget nature of the production of course, but such a thing will hurt any film when it comes to finding an audience. The film lacks that creative punch in this regard, and for a movie that does seem to echo so many of the slasher film tropes we are familiar with, this is a issue that does help sway a viewers opinion. Still, at the end of the day, The Cutting Room isn’t such a bad picture. It has issues and could be seen as lacking in true interest due to its conventional slasher plotting, but I think indie horror fans could find something interesting for those who have the patience. You can find more information about this film by visiting the official Myspace page here: http://www.myspace.com/thecuttingroom2007