Shock Value (2014)

Shock ValueStarring Zak Hudson, Anthony Bravo, Janelle Odair, Michelle Campbell

Directed by Douglas Rath

Distributed by Gravitas Ventures


Oh, the lengths a director will go to in order to raise his film up into the stratosphere of notoriety – and while I’ve read some stories of a few fairly desperate actions on behalf of the men in the big chair, and how far their quest for the perfect leading man (or woman) will take them, I can admit that I’ve not quite seen a ploy such as the one laid out in Douglas Rath’s Shock Value, a perfect example of how to completely circumvent the casting couch and go straight for the jugular.

The movie showcase the sad actions of director Miles Fowler (Zak Hudson), a low-rent horror movie filmmaker who just cannot seem to get to the top of his game, whether it be cinematically or romantically. Seemingly at the point of giving up on what he holds most dear to his heart, he witnesses the brutal murders of a couple of lovebirds one night in a park by a serial killer (Anthony Bravo in a writing/acting double-bill) named Nick. His motive is to execute anyone that he would like to at any time – simple enough, right?

So Miles and his assistant, Justine, deduce a plan to blackmail Nick into starring in his next slasher film, despite his acting talent.  (But hey, when you can hack and slash, who cares if you can’t truly emote?) Nick, feeling backed into a corner, opts into Miles’ latest celluloid bloodbath.

Over time Nick starts to take a liking to his newfound role of leading man, so much so that he strikes up a relationship with A.D. Justine. His motivation as a silver-screen sociopath starts to override his real-life vehemence, much to the dismay of his director-in-charge. What follows soon afterwards is a role-reversal of sorts, with Miles now coming in touch with his inner lunatic, at the ready to dish out some end justice to those who’ve wronged him in the past and the present, and why not take care of what can hurt you in the future as well? His turn is fairly abrupt, and when it does happen, I can see more than a few viewers applauding in their seats… you sickos.

The film is A-B-C easy to follow; however, at times it does seem to get stuck in the mud, but thanks to a fantastic cameo from legendary film icon Malcolm McDowell as a washed-up actor, Shock Value shifts out of low gear and takes the story back into cruise control. Gore is at a minimum unfortunately, which will disappoint the hounds, but fans of comedic performances will get a few laughs at the interaction between the two lead male characters. Rath’s directorial style allows the viewer to see the movie from all angles and uses both day and night shots to visual excellence without compromising the movie’s integrity. While the movie’s premise does come off as just a tad of a stretch, it takes it as a comedic instance that knows it shouldn’t be looked at as serious, and that makes it all the more fun to witness.

All in all, Shock Value won’t knock you on your keester with overwhelming gore, laughs, or surprises but will definitely entertain those who are looking for a nice break in the monotony that has become the “creative” new-breed of horror films. Indie filmmaking is most assuredly on the rise, and this movie is a testament to that statement – take it or leave it, but you’ve at least got to watch it one time.

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Matt Boiselle

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