Cut Shoot Kill (2017)

Starring Alexandra Socha, Alex Hurt, Phil Burke, Jay Devore, Lexi Lapp, Zanny Laird

Directed by Michael Walker


When you happen to notice the throwback poster for Michael Walker’s Cut Shoot Kill when it pops up today on your VOD carousel, you can stop scrolling for the best genre film out this week. You’ve found it. Following a movie crew shooting a horror movie, the film-within-a-film structure allows for you to feel like you’re watching a Making-Of featurette while also being trapped inside the dailies. However, there’s really no need to learn how they did the gore effects since the blood spilled on this particular set is all real.

Struggling to compete in the big leagues, Serena (Socha) decides to be the lead in a low budget horror movie in hopes that top billing will lead to bigger roles down the line. Things are already off to an odd start when a black school bus driven by a guy named iBall pulls up to shuttle the cast upstate, where a tight-knit crew awaits their arrival. Once there, the director, Alabama Chapman (Hurt), begins to live up to his name by becoming more and more pretentious (and more creepy) as the filming intensifies. Suspiciously, as the actors die on screen, they suddenly disappear off the set, never to be seen again.

A part of a well-funded, demented Film Collective, Alabama and his crew are obsessed with realism, giving new meaning to the famous phrase “Pain is temporary; film is forever.” As the movie they’re making bleeds into real life, Serena and her brooding co-star Blake Stone (Burke) have to become their characters in order to stay alive.

Cut Shoot Kill shows a snuff film through the eyes of artists trying to make the most truthful experience they can. Tightroping on the cutting edge of cinema has its drawbacks unfortunately, as the filmmakers teeter on the brink of insanity. They haven’t gotten caught yet, and their only choice is to keep going until they do.

Not necessarily made for some disturbed group of voyeurs that may wind up being the audience for this kind of entertainment, writer-director Michael Walker is making a subtle comment that we are already watching something we shouldn’t be. And we as an audience have to admit it’s a rush to see something inherently taboo. It’s Faces of Death meets Behind the Mask.

There’s a nice balance Walker strikes between the actors stuck inside the film they’re making and the crew hellbent on capturing the perfect shot. It’s a setup that allows for us to decide whom we want to root for. As they work to find the film in the edit, the actors fighting to survive pray they don’t make the final cut.

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Drew Tinnin

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