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Frayed (DVD)

Frayed on DVDReviewed by Erik Van Der Wolf

Starring Tony Doupe, Aaron Blakely, Alena Dashiell, Tasha Smith, Kellee Bradley, Don Brady

Directed by Norbert Caoili and Robert Portmann

Distributed by Lionsgate Home Entertainment


In 1978 film audiences witnessed the brutal murder of young Judith Meyers through the eyes of her killer. Through those portals they watched, both transfixed and horrified, as a naked and vulnerable Judith was viciously stabbed over and over again with a butcher knife the killer had retrieved from her very own kitchen. And as shocking as those images were, the murder itself was to be upstaged only moments later when it would be revealed her killer was not a rabid, salivating “Manson-esque” serial killer, but her own ten-year-old brother, Michael. A seemingly normal all-American boy from the suburbs of Haddonfield, Illinois whose eyes simply seemed… empty… devoid of soul, reason… and remorse. And thus the question was posed: Is evil the result of nature or nurture? Can evil simply be born as such? Or is evil created by event or upbringing?

Frayed, written by Kurt Svennungsen, Dana Svennungsen, Norbert Caoili, Robert Portmann and Dino Moore, and directed by Norbert Caoili and Robert Portmann, attempts to tackle the same subject matter, introducing us to eight-year-old Kurt Baker. Through the eyes of a home video circa 1994, we meet young Kurt at his little sister’s birthday party. Like all children, when it’s not their party, Kurt’s a bit sullen, unruly, wanting to be the center of attention. But when he begins to act aggressive toward his sister, blowing out her candles before she can and throwing cake at her to boot, he’s sent to his room to think about what he’s done and work on an apology.

Later, when mom goes to check on him (with the video camera still running for no explainable reason), she finds young Kurt sitting on the edge of his bed, seemingly disconnected from the world around him and simply staring into the void. And before she knows it, mom is brutally murdered via one of the most violent, amazing, and impressive bludgeoning deaths ever put on film. And it’s at this point you expect this slasher film to be one hell of a ride.

But unfortunately, and to one’s utter disappointment, that’s as good as it gets as we cut to fifteen years later when Kurt’s father, Sheriff Pat Baker (Tony Doupe), is told by Kurt’s doctor that there is no hope for his son, and, despite years of therapy, he remains completely disassociated with the real world. There is nothing left to do but transfer him to a maximum security mental hospital better suited to deal with his condition. Of course, as seems to always happen when transferring homicidal maniacs to another facility, the transfer goes awry and Kurt escapes. He kills one security guard and wounds another (Aaron Blakely) who gives chase but soon finds himself the prey, not the hunter.

Frayed on DVDHaving seen this movie several times before under various other titles (such as the aforementioned Halloween and the subsequent rip-offs that have ensued since), it doesn’t take much to figure out that Kurt, now wearing a crude cell-made clown mask, is most likely heading home, leaving bodies in his wake, to finish the job of killing his family, his targets being his older sister who has gone camping with her friends and his father, the Sheriff, who has since remarried.

But, while Kurt’s path does seem to be following a jagged trajectory toward his childhood home, the immediate object of his rage seems to be the security guard who has given chase. Why? And why does the guard seem to have some type of psychic connection to Kurt, revealed in many (and I do mean many) fleeting flashbacks?

It’s at this point the film starts to go through all too familiar paces, and despite the best efforts of the writers to add a mystery element to the story, even the casual horror film viewer will figure out the plot pretty early on, and what might have been fresh and innovative maybe ten years ago comes off as stale dated here.

The film never delivers on the promise of the first fifteen minutes as all the subsequent kills happen off-screen, and what started out with a bang sadly ends with all the fury of a water pistol. There is one “surprise” (only if you aren’t paying attention) toward the end, whose point is well taken, but by then you really don’t care and aren’t really sure if enduring the first one hundred minutes was worth it.

When all is said and done, you kind of feel cheated after being teased by the opening. It’s like being invited to a party with an open bar, only for the bar to close five minutes after you get there. While the filmmakers would probably argue there was a reason of narrative for the film to play out as it does, that really doesn’t follow as there are other breaks from the account that would not support that assertion.

Performances (particularly by Tony Doupe), direction, and cinematography are all top-notch, and Tim Peirson’s special make-up effects (what little we get to see of them) are solid, the highlight of which, sadly, happens in the first five minutes.

The DVD has a standard commentary, trailer, and a “making-of” doc. But the jewel is the in-depth look at how the opening bludgeoning death was done, a definite must-see for the DVD Film School crowd.

But the film, while it gets an “A” for effort in that it’s not a remake or a sequel, ultimately disappoints.

Special Features

  • Audio commentary with screenwriter Kurt Svennungsen and directors Rob Portmann and Norbert Caoili
  • Pushing the Edge: The Making-of Frayed featurette
  • A View to a Kill: Making the Head Bash for Frayed featurette
  • Inside Quantum: The Post Production of Frayed featurette
  • Trailers

    Film:

    2 1/2 out of 5

    Special Features:

    2 1/2 out of 5

    Discuss Frayed in the Dread Central forums!

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    • DeadInHell

      First of all, there is a difference between a remake and a ripoff. That’s why he can say it isn’t a remake, you ignoramus.

      Secondly, no they did not steal the script from Rob Zombie’s Halloween remake. That’s completely nonsensical. Not only were the two films made at the same time, they each are obviously based on THE ORIGINAL FUCKING HALLOWEEN. YOU IDIOT.

      Anyway, this flick had potential but it squandered all of it. It started with some gusto, but then tapered off into a middling, disappointing faux-slasher. By the time the idiotic and insulting twist is revealed Frayed is sitting on the wrong end of the horror spectrum. A total waste of time for horror fans, unless you’re an aspiring writer/director and you’d like a lesson in exactly how to avoid the Frayed pitfalls of cheating and insulting your audience.

    • GravitaZ

      Wow, did they just steal the script from RZ’s Halloween and use a clown mask instead of a Hockey Mask?

    • doubleh55

      How can you not say this is a remake when you basically say in the review that this is essentially a Halloween ripoff?