Firstly I just want to say thankyou to “Jlpublicity’s”, Jacqui and Gregory Goodman the producer of the brand new horror/comedy film “Shock Value”, directed by Douglas Rath. Thanks for allowing me access to the film before its official release, its much appreciated! I have to admit other than having seen a short trailer for “Shock Value” I knew next to nothing about it and I was pleasantly surprised with the end result. It’s a story about a down on his luck, low-budget horror filmmaker named Miles Fowler (played by Zak Hudson). He is having trouble in the romance department as well as getting a new and successful project off the ground. One night when he is feeling particularly voyeuristic at a lover’s lane of sorts, he witnesses a brutal double murder. Rather than immediately calling the cops, Miles along with Justine (Michelle Campbell), his producer and best friend, decide to capitalise on the opportunity to cast a real life serial killer in their next low-budget film.
This also stars Anthony Bravo as Nick (who also wrote the script) along with Janelle Odair, Will Brandt and a cool little cameo from the one and only Malcolm McDowell.
I have seen a few films this year that reminded my of the style Shock Value was aiming for. Cheap Thrills and Maniac are just a couple that spring to mind. The idea itself is a very fresh and fun one. The meager budget (estimated at $150,000) is put to great use and really brings the overall production value right up. This is not a film to be taken to seriously it has a particular subtle brand of a humour similar to that of American Psycho and it never loses its B movie footing.
The introduction doesn’t mess around as we are introduced to Miles at either the screening of one of his films or a festival of some sort (I’m not too sure about that one). Right off the bat there is some wonderful smooth edits and cuts between the opening scenes along with a very crisp and clear audio track. The sound effects are great too. Several times the score was very reminiscent of some of The Coen Brother’s work, Barton Fink and Fargo sounding. I loved the camera work as well, a lot of really intense close camera work. The film has minimal locations but the surroundings are taken full advantage of. This is the perfect example of a movie within a movie, it knows exactly what it wants to be. I’m sure Douglas and those involved know this isn’t going to be something for everyone, but clearly it’s what it’s the type of film they set out to make. It’s obvious in so much of the tounge in cheek humour to do with all the different facets of making a film with next to no money and or experience. I think it works and it doesn’t ever tip the scale and become too self-indulgent. It doesn’t try hard to be funny it’s a dry style that feels natural.
There is a real solid chemistry amongst the characters as well and I thought everyone pulled their own weight. Zak’s portrayal of Miles gives the audience a sense of sympathy towards his situation but that quickly changes when you see the length’s Miles is willing to go to in order to get what he wants. The standout performance though, comes from Anthony Bravo as the real life psycho Nick. The way in which he is introduced into the story made for some great dry humour. Anthony really nails the role and even though we don’t know everything about Nick or his background or why he is doing the things he is, it still makes for a great watch. This is one of those films where everybody looks like somebody too (haha if that makes sense). I got a young Thomas C Howell meets Casey Affleck vibe from Anthony and Janelle has an Anna Faris look about her, it was oddly distracting but interesting.
Although the audio levels are pretty impressive given the small budget, it does at times get a little loud and overzealous with the sound effects and score in comparison to the actors dialogue levels. A little more editing and that could have been stamped out. I think the second half of the film loses a little bit of momentum and feels a bit under-developed. I found that all the characters weren’t ever really fully explored but maybe that was the point. It does have that surreal feeling about it, I’m just used to characters being really fleshed out and when it’s from point A to point B, I always feel like something is missing.
The actors let themselves down a little bit in the final act as well. I think once the intensity was heightened and the emotions were supposed to come out, it ended up feeling a little bit forced but I also understand this cast doesn’t have a lot of experience so I’m sure they are going to continue to improve. I was hoping for a few more action sequences and more visible gore (that’s just me being a gorehound though). I know the purpose of the film was to make fun of the genre and keep things very satirical a little bit like the film “Chop” from 2009, so it work’s in that sense. I also felt Anthony channeling some Patrick Bateman action… which I dug!!
Shock Value is a technically well made film by a very talented group of people. Sure, it’s illogical and silly but you won’t find too much in the genre that isn’t (haha). If you have read my review you know what you are in for. I’m not sure about the standard for multiple viewings but If you like something a little different that is going to entertain and isn’t your typical slasher-fare or gore based film than I think this is something worth watching. The cast appears to have a lot of fun and this isn’t reliant on “Shock Value” (haha pardon the pun) I can’t wait to see what Douglas and Anthony do next! Well done guys!
My rating for “Shock Value” is 6.5/10