THE CUTTING ROOM (2015)
Written and directed by Warren Dudley
British found footage horror THE CUTTING ROOM certainly sets the tone with its shocking opener of a teenage girl being tied to a table and tortured. After this chilling introduction, the tone drifts into a sense of normality as we are introduced to prankster Raz (Parry Glasspool), his girlfriend Charlie (Lucy-Jane Quinlan) and their friend Jess (Lydia Orange), three media studies students who are eager to create an interesting documentary as part of their assignment given by teacher Mr Kallis.
Right from the beginning, including the opening torture, the film is shot in handheld found footage style, so expect the camera swinging at times (though not motion sickness inducing, thank God), the cameraman Raz adding his own commentary over the top and a selection of Raz’s preferred point of view shots (close-ups of Charlie’s mum’s bum). The way the film is shot is very amateur to mimic the student film aspect of the plot and whilst this works, the action on screen leaves a little to be desired. At times, the film drags with idle chit-chat to fill the gap whilst other times, when the kids are interviewing people connected to missing schoolgirl Rosy, responses are a little unbelievable. An example of this is when Rosy’s dad allows these three teens, who turn up on his doorstep, to rummage around in his daughter’s room looking for clues. I very much doubt someone would allow three strangers into their house to start poking around. This type of unbelievable response knocks the realism of the movie a little and it feels as though you’re watching a movie instead of this supposed “real-life” documentary by the three students.
Rather than featuring copious amounts of torture porn, THE CUTTING ROOM relies on god ol’ fashioned darkness and claustrophobic tunnels to generate its scares with the odd shot of a masked maniac and screaming victims to intensify the nightmarish environment. As the film reaches its latter stage, the characters are drawn to an abandoned army barracks which is where the film unleashes its horrors. Horror veterans won’t find anything new with the cat and mouse chase between the villains and the victims, but the torch-lit tunnels do make a great setting for a film such as this.
A couple of inventive ideas save the movie from being lacklustre but as an overall film, I found THE CUTTING ROOM difficult to enjoy. The three main characters lacked substance with only Raz offering some sort of charm, albeit annoying in nature. The film didn’t do enough to get me wrapped up in the story and could have done with cutting some pointless scenes of idle banter or extending the running time to flesh it out more to give the final scenes some extra punch. In terms of horror, I think the film could have benefitted from a bit more of the red stuff too.
The Cutting Room is available now on DVD and features a behind-the-scenes making of footage.