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08.17.2017
Smash Cut (2009)
Movie Review by The Mortician
04.15.10

Smash Cut (2009) Oh man how I anticipated this film! Just the possibilities alone---David A. Hess, star of LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT '72, unleashed again, commanding the screen, with a new victim played by none other than porn star Sasha Grey. Can we all say "Helloooooooooooo Lady!" together now, in unison? (A tribute to Hess' psycho role in HOUSE ON THE EDGE OF THE PARK).

Throw in H.G. Lewis and Michael Berryman of HILLS HAVE EYES '77 fame...and wow, what a stellar cast! Then I started to see the trailers and...while it looked decent, it was obvious that the film wasn't going to be the "serious" mode at all. As a matter of fact, it looked like the tone was almost...slapstick-ish!

Now don't get me wrong. I love comedy, when it's appropriate, but the "horror-comedy" genre is one of the most difficult to pull off. When it IS pulled off gracefully, it's fun and powerful- thing RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, ED WOOD, and SCREAM. But when it ISN'T pulled off properly...well, it ain't much fun.

Which pretty much describes SMASH CUT, sadly: not much fun. While it's great to see David A. Hess back in a lead performance, and he's quite good (and looks great for his age!), he alone can't seem to elevate the rather bland material and "humorous" approach that director Lee Demarbre takes.

The movie "loosely" (and I mean VERY loosely) follows the career of gore director Able Whitman (played by Hess), who can't seem to get a good review for his movies. Additionally, the fans are turning on him, noting the "fakeness" of his gore FX. When Able is driving his stripper "muse" home intoxicated, he wrecks his car and kills her. Seeing the body parts, he decides to hide the murder and use the "real" parts and blood of his muse in his latest film as effects! Of course, once you start such an endeavor, it's hard to stop...

Thus begins Abe's murder spree---he takes out his biggest critic (dressed up like Eastwood in THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY), the two heads of his distribution company, and a few others in order to keep those groovy looking effects going.

In the meantime, the stripper's sister April (Sasha Grey), who just happens to be a TV reporter, hires a ludicrous private investigator to help "solve" the case, and the two team up, eventually setting their sites on Able. The P.I. part is played so over-the-top and slapstick that it takes you right out of the film. It gets downright ANNOYING and I don't understand why they made it like this. Eventually, the P.I. has April get a part in Able's latest movie so they can "prove" he is killing people for special effects...And so goes the ludicrous story.

Obviously, this plot has been done a million times and is also a homage to H.G. Lewis films (and Lewis does a nice intro and plays the part of April's boss well). But the thing about Lewis' movies was that, yes, they were over the top...but also played straight. Here, we get goofball music, attempts at complete slapstick, and dashes of humor that failed to make me even crack a smile. And I have to mention poor Sasha Grey as April...yep, she looks great! But nope, she don't take her clothes. And her acting is here is incredibly bland---about as wooden as a 2 x 4. Unbelievable! I don't know if she was told to play the part this bad or if she actually is that bad of an actress. Either way, it's so noticeable that I doubt that this performance will lead to any new mainstream roles for her anytime soon.

The other issue I had with the movie is that it's so low budget that even the "on the set" scenes where Able films the "real" gore are so quick, cheap, and limited to about two angles that it almost angers you! We're all used to expansive behind-the-scenes DVD documentaries, and you won't find that here at all. All the "filming" scenes are done way too fast and aren't in any way fun at all.

SMASH CUT looks great- probably shot on 35mm film (I didn't watch the extras), it's lit well, and has some cool set designs. And it truly is a joy to see Hess on-screen, but the tone of this movie somehow dilutes his talent. The slapdash approach to it all...AIRPLANE meets BLOOD FEAST...somehow falls as flat as a soda with no fizz.

Sad. I really had high hopes for this movie. And I really wanted to see Hess in another maniac performance to add to the "Krug" trilogy of LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, HOUSE ON THE EDGE OF THE PARK, and HITCH-HIKE. We still need that, folks, and Hess looks more than ready!

But we don't get that here. We get very little, actually. I found myself continually waiting for something good to happen with high anticipation...leading to groan after groan as I began to watch the running time, waiting for it to finally be over with.

I was severely depressed after watching this film, just at all the great talent on screen that was sorely wasted by a bad script, bad directing, and a bad approach to the material all around. It just doesn't work, and from the reviews I've seen from fellow fans and moviegoers, this looks like the general consensus. It's just not a fun movie...and all this great talent is severely wasted in pure drivel.

Ah, time to break out LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT again, to wash this bad taste out of my mouth... Worth a look solely for Hess' moments of madness (except for the scene where he goes totally bonkers insane, which he doesn't do well---he's best at the "in control" murder sequences), SMASH CUT offers the same old same old...and even less, despite, or because of, the iconic cast involved.

Directed by Lee Demarbre

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Rating: 2.5 out of 10.0 - 2 votes cast total
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