Film Review: The Cutting Room (2011)

SYNOPSIS:

Jordan is making an indie slasher flick but is having trouble getting the kill scenes to look the way he wants them to. Good for him he has Edit, the lovely Goth film editor, who is taking the initiative to make his shots better looking and more realistic. Problem is that his cast and crew are disappearing.

REVIEW:

The Cutting Room (2009)
Shot, Produced, Edited, Written and Directed by Travis Ammons
Starring: Ellen Dyer, Tom Long, Chris Rivera, Elizabeth Banner
Though it’s not breaking any new ground in the story department, The Cutting Room is a fun movie. We’ve seen this kind of “movie-within-a-movie” story before in films such as Deathtrap (1982), Scream 2 (1997), and even a movie also called The Cutting Room (2006), which has a strikingly similar plot…and I quote from IMDB, “An inexperienced moviemaker attempts to complete a horror film. The production gets complicated when a real serial killer begins to take out members of the cast and crew.” That is no joke. I’m not sure if these two films know about one another, but perhaps they should be introduced. Maybe have some coffee or something. I dunno.

None of that matters, really. I’m to speak of what I just watched and what I just watched was an entertaining, humorous, and worthwhile independent film, filled with personality and intent. I liked almost everything about it. I liked the story and how it was told…regardless of the aforementioned movies. I liked the picture quality which reminded me of old school films like Last House on the Left and Halloween. I liked the dedication to blood…lots of blood, maybe not copious amounts, but a good amount nonetheless. I liked the fact that the acting wasn’t sub-par, which tells me that Travis Ammons really cares about what he’s doing enough to cast people with real talent in his movie. I especially like Travis Ammons, who apparently has nothing better to do with his time than FREAKING EVERYTHING it takes to make a movie. Wow. Seriously, sometimes I don’t even like to do the dishes, and this guy was apparently working on another film called Unseen simultaneously.

But I did say I liked “almost” everything. I didn’t really like the score. Or perhaps I really didn’t like the score for this movie. It sounded like early nineties Industrial music which, while delicious in its aggression, is a soundtrack better suited for more visceral fare. It was like Trent Reznor before he did Pretty Hate Machine, composing on something marginally better than a Radio Shack / Casio synthesizer. I’m not saying that the quality of the score was bad, necessarily; I just didn’t feel it was a match for the film I was watching. And though I think I understand what the intent was, I wasn’t shot up about some of the ways the scenes were structured. Sometimes I didn’t know if I was watching the movie or the movie-within-a-movie, which I’m sure, must have been the intent, but I don’t think I felt that way because of any masterful directorial sleight of hand. I think I felt that way because the film felt truncated and consequently rushed, especially toward the end. Lastly, I think this film wanted to be a dark comedy. It almost hit the mark there, but I think it was just a hair shy of really becoming that kind of film, flirting with the idea without really committing itself. It was just a little too ambiguous to be either all the way serious or all the way humorous and it would have been nice if it would have truly gone one way or the other.

All that said, there are worse independent films out there…way worse. Mr. Ammons definitely has talent in all the arenas he credited himself for in the film, as well as the drive to do it. As I mentioned before, he was working on Unseen (currently…ahem…unseen by myself, but I’ll be looking for it) and according to an interview I read, he wants to “put the money (they) make from these first two films into producing an “artistic” piece that (they) can feel good about and promote at film festivals.” Feel good about this one Mr. Ammons, and I’ll be keeping an eye out for that “artistic” effort of which you speak.

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