Reviewed by Gareth Jones
Directed by Ozgur Uyanik
Starring Tom Shaw, Joanne Ferguson, James Powell
Distributed by Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment
The mockumentary format is alive and well in writer/director Ozgur Uyanik’s very effective Resurrecting the Street Walker. The film follows the tale of James and Marcus, two friends who decide to create a documentary on the inner workings of the film industry, using James as the subject in his newly acquired position as runner for a London production company. While clearing out a storeroom one afternoon, James happens upon the unfinished reels of a film called The Street Walker – a low budget, black and white serial killer affair.
Seeing this as his golden opportunity to prove his filmmaking skills, James talks the head of the company into hiring him to complete the film in the hopes of making some quick cash out of the finished product. As he focuses more and more on The Street Walker, and delves into its history, James learns some disturbing truths about the director – and that something terrible may have happened on set. Marcus’ camera chronicles James’ descent into paranoia and madness as events spiral out of control and he is forced to watch his dreams slip through his fingers.
Fake documentaries are an exceptionally hard thing to pull off, especially within the horror genre, but Uyanik and co. have almost nailed it with this one. If there’s one thing that you’ll recognise the most about Resurrecting the Street Walker, it’s just how damn easy it is to watch. The film moves along at a chipper pace, with consistent editing flipping between footage moving the story on and some informative and foreboding interviews with the various characters involved. Right from the beginning, it’ll hook you in – and before you know it there’s no way back.
Now, the success isn’t solely down to the masterful construction of the flick, but also performances from the cast. A poor cast will absolutely destroy any mockumentary from the get-go but thankfully lead actor James Powell comes across so naturally you’ll need very little convincing. A struggling bohemian and die-hard wannabe artiste; James’ desperation and willingness to put up with any manner of shit once he settles in amongst the production company bods rings true in what is essentially a no-holds-barred criticism of the industry itself. His ultimate descent into murderous insanity feels somewhat lacking, however, and never really pays off at the level you expect.
Similarly, co-star Joanne Ferguson is a character you’ll loathe – the office uber-bitch, she delights in tormenting James and giving him insulting nicknames. Her performance is by and large excellent though she does drop the ball slightly on a couple of occasions, coming across as less than convincing with a few deliveries.
There isn’t much one can say about the visual aspects of Resurrecting the Street Walker. It certainly isn’t going to win any awards for cinematography, simply because it isn’t designed to. The amateur documentary footage is convincing, the candid interviews never feel forced and…well…it just looks and sounds like a damned documentary!
If you do expect the film-within-the-film, The Street Walker, to be an exceptionally disturbing piece of work then you’re in for some disappointment. While most movies using a film as the MacGuffin would elevate the content of their key element to extreme levels (see John Carpenter’s Cigarette Burns, for example), Uyanik avoids doing so. The Street Walker is basically a cheap, crap piece of schlock cinema. This adds punch to the ferocious view of the film industry that Uyanik’s film holds, as we watch a promising young man stripped to despair over a film which probably would have been best undiscovered – for reasons which lack any kind of sinister motive.
Unfortunately, the climax of Resurrecting the Street Walker is likely something that the audience will see coming a mile away and, as mentioned, it lacks that graphic and disturbing punch which would really make the film a resounding favourite amongst genre aficionados. As it stands, though, if you plonk someone with no prior knowledge down in front of it and convince them it’s a real documentary — you’ll scare the shit out them. Even if you’re fully aware of the origins, this piece of work comes recommended as not only an involving and damning insight into the world of filmmaking, but as a worthy addition to the list of essential horror mockumentaries such as Julian Richards’ The Last Horror Movie.
Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment will be releasing Resurrecting the Street Walker on DVD in the UK on July 28th, with special features including an audio commentary, deleted scenes, test footage and cast and crew interviews. These were reluctantly not included on the review disc, but appear to be a good addition to an already deserving flick. Pick it up.
4 out of 5
Discuss Resurrecting the Street Walker in our forums!