It is an experimental, unconventional story told almost entirely from the viewpoint of a deeply disturbed, sociopathic serial killer
In order to more fully understand a film, it can sometimes be helpful to take a minute and try to understand the filmmaker behind it. R.C. Horsch is a filmmaker, a writer, and a photographer, often dealing with the darker side of life. Much of his photography has focused on heroin-addicted prostitutes, often placed in juxtaposition with fashion models. His writing – a couple novels and a collection of stories – covers similar territory: drug addiction, prostitution, S&M, and the like. As a filmmaker, he’s created erotic documentaries (the Lovers: An Intimate Portrait series for Femme Distribution Company, Candida Royalle’s feminist adult video company) as well as dark thrillers about sadistic serial killers (see 2006’s Snuff!).
It wouldn’t be a stretch to call Horsch a true outlaw artist: in addition to his artistic output, he’s also amassed a fairly lengthy criminal record, spent numerous stints in federal prison, manufactured meth, forged Picasso paintings, been diagnosed with sociopathic and schizophrenic characteristics, and even allegedly once stood in as the “stunt cock” for adult film legend Harry Reems, which paved the way for his own career in the business. It’s not surprising, then, that Deleted Scenes: A Serial Killer’s Video Journal, which was filmed over the course of 13 years (2004-2016) and which is considered by the director to be his “magnum opus,” would be representational of all aspects of Horsch’s life and works.
Not exactly a horror film, and not exactly pornography, Deleted Scenes tells the story of a serial killer who finds his victims on the streets, be it drug addicts, prostitutes, runaways, etc. He decides to play the role of “god” and, modelling himself after Dr. Frankenstein, attempts to create the “perfect” woman, his emotional and sexual slave. He finds a woman, Cecilia (played by Suzanne McElvenney), and slowly breaks her down, tortures her, humiliates her, in order to replace all of her “bad” qualities with a blank slate, tabula rasa, which he can then populate with the qualities that he wants her to possess. Referencing the James Whale take on the classic tale, eventually he decides he needs to create a “bride” for his “monster” (also played by McElvenney, but with a different look, hairstyle, etc), and things take an unexpected turn.
All of this is presented from the killer’s point of view (presumably, aside from the killings, a semi-autobiographical role played by Horsch), delivered in little pieces that start from his childhood and (thankfully) quickly move forward to the present. Along the way, we are shown women being killed in a variety of ways, including drowning, overdosing, neck broken during fellatio, and gunshot into the vagina. Alongside the killings, voiceover narration provided by the killer details his lack of empathy – he expresses his belief that he is helping some of the women by killing them, that they love him so deeply that they are giving him a gift by letting him kill them – and his lack of control – not only does he say he can’t control his obsessions, but he can’t control himself when “the beast” is hungry, the beast, of course, being his penis.
Deleted Scenes is a well-shot film, with clear talent showing through in many of the scenes. This is no doubt credited to Horsch’s career as a photographer (Horsch played all the major behind-the-camera roles – writer, director, editor, and cinematographer – however, the director credit is shown as “Ich Bin Niemand,” German for “I’m Nobody”). Unfortunately, this is one of the few highlights of the movie.
Running just short of 2 hours long, the non-narrative form of the story often grows tedious, with much of the film taken up with the repetition of guy picks up girl, guy has sex with girl, guy kills girl. Often times the voice over narration comes across as pseudo-intellectual babble, sometimes trying to justify his actions, other times essentially explaining what makes him so amazing. This is not a film that utilizes the “found footage” approach, which would have seemed the optimal choice of format given that up front we are told it is a random video journal of the killer’s life. Instead, the audience is being asked to see things from the killer’s POV, but are then presented with a run of the mill, low budget serial killer movie, of which we’ve already seen more than our fair share.
It’s a safe bet that the phrase “not for everyone” can be found in most writing about R.C. Horsch’s Deleted Scenes. This is a film that does not utilize a typical narrative structure, nor does it present the story in a linear way.
Despite the high body count, this is not a blood and gore horror film; despite the screen time dedicated to nude women, this is not a sexy, voyeuristic tale. There are moments that seem to have the potential to develop into something interesting, but then just as quickly they fizzle away. What we’re left with is the narcissistic rantings of a character that we can’t (and don’t want to) relate to, a number of victims who are given little to no character development, and another couple of women whose character is intentionally stripped away by the main character. So yes, it’s true that this film is not for everyone, but I don’t know for sure who it is for.