First off I just want to say thankyou to Derek Wayne Johnson, director of the brand new Horror/Slasher flick titled “Scrape”. I appreciate you sending me an online screener before the film’s official release. I have been tracking this film for the last six months since I saw a teaser trailer that looked really cool. “Scrape” is a story about Mick and Maggie Hedgeworth ( played by Garrett Kruithof and Nina Leon), along with their son Hunter (Alec Johnson) who live a quiet existence in small town Louisiana. Mick and Maggie rent from Mick’s good friend Barry (played by Rick LaCour). Barry is a real eccentric older man whom Mick also works with. The neighbourhood has always been safe but a recent string of grisly murders to women in the local area puts everyone on high alert. As the killer narrows in on the Hedgeworth family will Mick, Maggie and Barry be able to find out who is responsible and put a stop to it?
So there is the basic premise for Derek’s latest film. It’s not an overly original idea given the genre and formulaic structure but fans of these types of films know what they are in for and that’s all they really care about. I want to talk a little bit about the technical aspects of the film first. I think Scrape had an estimated budget of $500,000, which isn’t much money these days. From the outset it’s very clear this is a pretty polished piece of work. We get some great black and white camera work, along with a “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” style of narration that gives the audience a little introduction to our main characters. Majority of the camera work is nice and slick, a little bit of shaky cam was probably needed for some of the more intense scenes so that was okay. The audio is also very easy to hear and doesn’t become overbearing when things escalate. I love some of the unnerving sound effects that are placed in the introduction credits and also through several action scenes. The entire score for the film was very reminiscent of things like “Nightmare on Elm St” and “Maniac Cop”. Everything about this screamed late 70’s early 80’s slasher movie vibe, I dug that about it. Particularly the scenes shot in those foggy dimly lit alley ways that you are likely to see in the big city from any 80’s flick.
The acting from everyone involved is also pretty solid, considering these are all inexperienced actors. The highlight of the film though is Barry (LaCour). He was able to convey so much through minimal dialogue. He had a kind of flamboyant, sensitive, unsure way of carrying himself that made him entertaining. From a body count point of view it was nice to see a slasher that wants to give you something fun inside the first ten minutes. What ever happened to the days of an opening kill (think just about any film from the 80’s and 90’s). These days its always 30-40 minutes before the first cliché character is killed, I was glad that wasn’t the case with Scrape, it maintains it’s 80’s era style. I really like the look of the killer, it’s difficult to describe him as is his weapon of choice so please refer to the above poster (haha)
Sadly Scrape isn’t without its flaws though. By the time the credits starting rolling at just 75 minutes, I was left a little disappointed. It’s nothing obvious that the film has wrong with it, just lots of small things. I think with the exception of a scene towards the end of the film that takes place in the Hedgeworth’s house and garage the suspense factor ultimately fell flat. Maybe it’s just me but I was hoping for a lot more tension and some jump scares (cliché yes but effective). Some of the reactions from characters throughout the film were a little underplayed. The babysitter comes to mind (she was awful relaxed for someone who had just stumbled across a psycho with some kind of oxygen helmet/mask on). Linda a co-worker of Mick and Barry’s is being stalked and fails to even try to call for help, It wasn’t overly realistic. There is also a scene where the killer spends a fair amount of time outside in the middle of the day and of course that is the easiest way to get caught! Mick has this really odd obsession with fireworks and blowing stuff up, that kind of seemed out of left field, not sure about the context. Would a fully grown/responsible adult be so infatuated with this hobbie?…. I don’t know.
Several scenes just felt like filler when there wasn’t anything crucial happening to advance the story. I thought the banter between Mick and Barry worked well but it was the most unlikely of friendships. Not sure if these guys would ever associate with each other in the real world. There were a few minor technical problems. I think that the editing was a little abrupt from scene to scene and the few action sequences that had tilted camera work didn’t add anything to the experience. In fact neither did the view inside the mask, It seemed a little to video-game like. The action choreography during some of the chase scenes was a little lack-lustre as well. It’s really only a bunch of small things but they all add up. By far the two weakest aspects of the film though are the lacking body count/gore and the films predictable nature. I can understand the gore side of things, Derek’s probably trying to make a more mystery/thriller based story. However, the opportunity to do some really cool blood and gore effects and up the kill ratio was wasted. There was one nice “shredding” though, for lack of a better word. It had some cool practical blood effects.
In the end I think Scrape works well as a good fun 80’s style slasher film that you can sit down and watch with your friends. Sadly it doesn’t add anything new to the genre and the painfully obvious climax/reveal (which I saw coming 15 minutes into the film) leaves you feeling a little cheated. It makes “Scrape” difficult for a re-watch when you know whats coming the very first time you see it, let alone multiple viewings. It’s technically very well made and there are some fun memorable performances. Combined with the sweet 80’s slasher vibe which is rarely done well these days, making “Scrape” better than most films of this nature, so be sure to check it out and support Derek Wayne Johnson. Thanks again for the chance to view the film mate!!
My rating for “Scrape” is 5.5/10