Saturday, February 18, 2012
Dark Reel (2008)
I'm always fond of horror movies set in the movie business, or related. Nick Marino's Bloody Movie is a fun, violent and sentimental slasher set in the house of a silent movie star, The Back Lot Murders from 2002 is a gory slice 'n' dice flick set in a movie studio and Scream 3 and the Australian murder romp is also set in the adventurous world of b-movie filmmaking. I've been aware of Dark Reel for quite a while, but I never got around to see until today - and it was a nice surprise. Not perfect, but a lot more ambitious than a lot of other DTV horror movies out there. My main interest in it was of course Lance Henriksen, an actor I love and admire since childhood - but he also have a tendency to be a bit bored when making too much movies at the same time. I'm happy to say that he's doing fine here!
Nerdy and nervous horror movie fan Adam (Edward Furlong) wins a walk-on in a new pirate movie from the legendary low budget movie company Spotlight Pictures. The company is run by the cynical Connor Pritchett (Lance Henriksen) who demands boobs and bloods within two minutes of each scene. Adam and the star, Cassie Blue (Tiffany Shepis), takes interest in each other - to the anger of hip director Derek Deeds (Jeffrey Vincent Parise). But someone, dressed in a nasty mask and a blonde wig, is starting to kill the female cast - can it be the ghost of old movie star Scarlett May, out for revenge after being brutally murdered in 1958? Soon Adam is the main suspect, at least that's what Detective Shields (Tony Todd) and Detective LaRue (Rena Riffel) thinks...
I'll admit that Dark Reel is a little bit too long and the illusion of a movie inside the movie being shot never really works, but it's also a great-looking movie with a fun cast and some witty dialogue and that kinda saves the whole project from being just another slasher film. After the atmospheric black & white noir-beginning, a flashback to 1958, it never leaves that feeling and stays faithful to mysterious femme fatales and red herrings even when it's set in a contemporary Los Angeles in world of b-movies. While some of the supporting actors comes off as a little bit amateurish, the main cast is very good - and even Edward Furlong (who look tired and edgy as normal) seems to have a lot of fun with his part. Veterans like Lance Henriksen and Tony Todd is great and Rena Riffel is surprisingly funny.
In a way it feels like a spin-off from Scream 3, with Lance reprising his part from that movie, which I think is a fun idea. And even if I enjoy the Scream franchise, I think Dark Reel better handles the same concept better than Scream 3 (a movie who they had to make lamer because of the backlash regarding movie violence because of the Columbine massacre). It dares to be darker and violent, which never is wrong.
But in the end Dark Reel is a slasher, just disguised with some supernatural elements and a more ambitious vision. So how about the murders? The gore? Not bad actually, and not that much. But all the murders are graphic and bloody, including a couple of throat-slits, stabbings, a chopped of arm etc. The effects are well-made and old-school.