Mystery / Horror
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Dark Reel (2008)
2nd Apr 09
Adam Waltz (Edward Furlong) is a big fan of genre cinema who sees his run of bad luck turn when he wins a brief role and one line of dialogue in a new pirate/horror movie Pirate Wrench starring a certain favourite scream queen of his, Cassie Blue (Tiffany Shepis).
His good fortune increases when a masked killer starts offing cast members and studio head Connor Pritchett (Lance Henriksen) starts making his role bigger to compensate...all of which is good publicity for Pritchard's whose output of late has caused his fortunes to wane. Adam is considered a suspect, along with everyone else, by Detective Shields (Tony Todd) and his wacky sidekick Detective LaRue (Rena Riffel).
Along with Adam, Detective Shields has his eye on Pirate Wrench's director Derek Deeds (Jeffrey Vincent Parise), whose jealousy at the blossoming relationship between Adam and Cassie seems to be causing him some distress.
However, perhaps there's a link to the 1958 murder of screen wannabe Scarlett May (Alexandra Holden), who has a habit of popping up in screenings of the movie's dailies and whom only Adam can see. Her brutal murder remained unsolved meaning that the killer is possibly still at large. The race is on to find out who the killer is before Cassie becomes the next victim.
At first you aren't sure how its meant how Dark Reel is meant to play. Opening up with a fairly gruesome opening sequence before upping the tongue-in-cheek factor with Lance Henriksen's studio boss in action, it takes a while to settle into its groove. However, once Dark Reel has, it mixes comedy and horror better than the likes of Wes Craven's over-lauded Scream, which ended up losing itself up its own post modern ass.
An amusing, if overlong, movie Dark Reel boasts a wodge of nicely pitched performances and enough recognisable faces to lift this above the standard slasher. Director Josh Eisenstadt has fashioned an enjoyable flick with a less than Hollywood-sized budget that has a fairly unique vibe in a horror marketplace cluttered by soulless remakes and cash-in sequels.
It helps that the story Eisenstadt has put together with Aaron Pope, whom wrote the screenplay, is filled with kooky characters, such as the sound guy who goes ape after each unfluffed take, and doesn't try and ape the latest horror trend, rather go with its own flow.
When it comes to the kooky characters, I loved the character of Rhett Johnson, (Jake Grace) whose taste for onions, even at social functions, repels any leading lady expected to kiss him. His flamboyant engagement in a scrap is something to behold. Then there is the Connor Pritchett's lady assistant whom repeats drily everything her boss says, who plays like something David Lynch would have killed for in his Twin Peaks ensemble.
Gruesome and fun, although never really fully-fledged scary outside of the opening scene set in the Fifties, horror fans will get their blood splattered jollies from people getting stabbed through the back and spliced up through the chest from their belly button along with some neat limb removal.
Edward Furlong surprises given he hardly looks lead material and Lance Henriksen chews the scenery with relish. Candyman's Tony Todd adds some laughs however the real star of Dark Reel is Tiffany Shepis, who makes for an engaging and likeable female lead, looking like she is enjoying herself as much as the viewer is.
Look out for special make-up effects legend Rick Baker in a small cameo as a pirate and for movie-within-a-movie Gnome Killer which is just begging to be made into a real flick, and hopefully soon.