If there’s one thing guaranteed to bring us out in hives more at STARBURST than the prospect of another bloody American found footage cheapo straight-to-DVD horror, it’s the prospect of a British found footage cheapo straight-to-DVD horror. Surely no good can come of enthusiastic, well-meaning British film-makers with no money dabbling with the genre our American friends have already bored us to death (and beyond) with? Think again - and allow us to welcome you to The Cutting Room - a found footage movie which confounds and bedevils our expectations and our bitter prejudices by being pretty damned good.
Three college students - Raz and his girlfriend Charlie and their friend Jess - are encouraged by their tutor to put together some ‘special features‘-type footage for their end-of-year Media Studies project. Raz, cheeky beggar, is dissuaded from studying the phenomenon of pornography and instead the trio decide to put together an expose of cyber-bullying, using the mystery of missing fellow students and bullying victims Rosie Clarke and Clara Jenkins as their subjects. Their investigations bring them into contact with some severely-weird individuals and, eventually, a rendezvous - at dead of night, idiots! - at a long-abandoned army barracks in some nearby forests. There, you won’t be surprised to discover, something nasty awaits…
The Cutting Room is a brisk, no-nonsense effort which initially presents as just an intriguing mystery story as the trio turn detective in the wake of apparent Police disinterest in the missing girls. But there’s an ever-present sense of growing ease as their investigations send them in ever more disquieting directions and the film‘s atmosphere becomes more stifling and uncomfortable. The unknown cast are all commendably competent (watch out for the gloriously-named Andromeda Godfrey as Charlie’s mother) and their banter and relationships are hugely warm and naturalistic with the snarky Raz (Glasspool) cast very much in the mould of Jay from The Inbetweeners with his one-track mind and inappropriate comments. Inevitably the film’s focus is lost towards the end as it can’t help blundering headfirst into the usual cliches of the genre with our heroes wandering around dark tunnels lit by a torch beam screaming and shouting “Oh My God!” at three-second intervals.
Just when it looks as if The Cutting Room has thrown away all the goodwill earned by its first hour with some confusing and simplistic conclusion, there’s a killer twist/reveal in the final scene which will leave you gasping and reaching for the rewind button. It’s always a joy when a film which seems to offer little more than an absolute waste of seventy-odd minutes of your life turns into a little gem and The Cutting Room, found footage from a very English perspective, suggests that there can be more to the genre than yapping High School kids lost in the forest and numbskull teams of TV reporters exploring spooky abandoned buildings where nasty things have happened. Or to put it another way, The Cutting Room is a cut above the rest.
Special Features: None
INFO: THE CUTTING ROOM / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: WARREN DUDLEY / STARRING: PARRY GLASSPOOL, LUCY-JANE QUINLAN, LYDIA ORANGE, TJ HERBERT, JASON RHODES / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW