Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Undertow (2003)

Ten years ago, when no one was making horror movies in this god-forsaken country called Sweden I actually starred in probably the only indie-horror movie that got distribution during that time, Camp Slaughter (not to confuse with Camp Daze who was re-titled Camp Slaughter a few years later). The Swedish Camp Slaughter was a tribute to the slashers of the late eighties - I remember the filmmakers tossing around titles like Slaughter High and Friday the 13th part 5. That was the inspiration, but the idiots at Sandrew Metronome compared it in their marketing to Black Christmas and Halloween! So of course the HATE came from all fronts, and no one appreciated a small micro-budgeted slasher movie that didn't cost a penny from he tax payers money. But has that to do with Jeremy Wallace's The Undertow you ask? Well, the reason why I bought was that the rumour said that Camp Slaughter and The Undertow had similarities. Unintentional of course, but still. Could be fun to see!

A bunch of slightly annoying (but not too annoying) slackers decides that camping in Redneckistan is a good thing. It won't take long until they are stopped by a sleazy sheriff who terrorizes them for a while and then pours out their beer! Scandal! They stop by a store, and the people there are even more hostile... Happy happy joy joy! Anyway, the daughter of the towns mayor sneaks up the camping site at night and warns them that her mentally-disabled brother, called The Boy, is out to get them. Her father uses him to clean out unwanted city-folks from their pure and Christian community! The horror! The horror!

No, it's not that similar to Camp Slaughter - but the killer himself is very similar - both in looks and behaviour. After watching Ratline I've been curious to see the rest of Eric Stanze's work. He didn't direct this one, instead his producer and co-worker Jeremy Wallace did. Instead Stanze shot it, edited it and worked on the special effects - together with executive producing for Sub Rosa Extreme.  But it feels a lot like a Wicked Pixel Cinema production, maybe lacking the depth that I've seen in some of the other films - but it has that gritty atmosphere. Compared to a lot of other filmmakers who went out with their digital video cameras and shot their own homemade epics this gang knows how to tell a story and to point the camera. And it works surprisingly well for being such a generic storyline.

I think we can thank the good cast for giving The Undertow some extra class. Both Emily Haack and Jason Christ is in it, both veterans in the Stanze-stable. It seems like there was a lot of improvising and for once it works very good (I'm very rarely a fan of improvising lines). I guess we're dealing with actors who was good friends in real life and made it possible to be so good.

The gore is bloody and quite graphic, but I think they spent most of the money and time on the first killing, a very nice and very graphic head-squeezing (I guess it's called) that holds up even today, in this day and age.

I'm one of them who have no problems watching very cheap shot-on-video movies. This one looks cheap, but because they're able to tell the story good it's very watchable. You see, it's not the format you shoot that's important - it's the story and script. Untalented people can spend millions with shooting on 35 mm, and it's a disaster. I kinda prefer when talented people work with what they have instead, even if it means someone somewhere will look down on them for using video as a tool for telling stories. 


Anonymous said...

"You see, it's not the format you shoot that's important - it's the story and script."

Yeah...I agree.....seen some very nice cheaply made films done with small budgets, lack of technology etc....but brings some very nice material to the screen.

Like In the Company of Men (1997)etc...

Ninja Dixon said...

I'm watching Deadwood Park (also shot digital) now, directed by Stanze. Extremely good so far. Maybe a review tomorrow... who knows!

Anonymous said...

Ninja: Ok....looking forward to it ninja....