Gruesome (2006)
By: David Michael Brown on May 20, 2008  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Madman (Australia). Region 4, PAL. 1.78:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 5.1, English DD 2.0. 80 minutes
The Movie
Director: Jeff Crook, Joshua Crook
Starring: Lauren Currie Lewis, Chris Ferrie, Cody Darbe
Screenplay: Jeff Crook, Joshua Crook
Country: USA
AKA: Salvage
External Links
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As young filmmakers around the world try to kick start their career, many turn to the horror genre for their first foray into cinema. It's not hard to see why celluloid carnage is seen as the east option. Just look at the upper deck of the Hollywood directing hierarchy, you can just imagine them all dreaming of being the next Sam Raimi or Wes Craven. Unfortunately, it doesn't always work out that way and for every Evil Dead or Last House on the Left, there is a Gruesome.

Gruesome doesn't work on a variety of levels and none are due to the fact this was made on an extremely low budget. Horror films are often the life blood of low budget filmmakers. The old adage goes that making a horror film is an almost guaranteed way of getting more bang for your buck when so many other genres require a bigger investment. Even the most discerning horror fans will often let many of the faults inherent in the genre pass un-noticed if gory effects, naked flesh and a splattering of controversial ideas are splashed onto the screen. In fact many of the things that your average cinema goer would baulk at are embraced by connoisseurs of low budget horror films. Over enthusiastic performances, cheesy dialogues, stupid characters and ridiculous plot lines, one viewers trash is the next viewers treasure. This has to be the case otherwise how does Troma exist!

Unfortunately Gruesome tries hard to shock with its bloody effects but it has little else to offer. There is storyline potential but becomes confusing and muddled before the underwhelming denouement. One of the problems is the lead performance by Lauren Curries Lewis; she just isn't given anything to work with. Her character, Claire Parker, just isn't likeable enough for you to really care what's happening to her. The script is more concerned with its clever twists than character development.

When we first meet Claire she is working the night shift at a convenience store in her sleepy hometown. When she finishes her shift, a stranger, driving her boyfriend Jimmy's car offers her a lift. She foolishly takes him up on the offer and is brutally slain. This is where it starts getting strange. She wakes up from her murder, seemingly unhurt and assuming it was a bad dream continues with her life until she meets the stranger again. When it becomes clear that he is out to murder her again; a bizarre gory take on Groundhog Day ensues as she tries to escape from her inevitable slaughter. It's a tough role for any actor, let alone someone new to the trade and unfortunately Lewis just doesn't have the acting chops. Not that the blame lays fully on the shoulders of the actress. The script writers and director have just bitten off more than they can chew. The ideas are certainly there and it is an intriguing premise, but with the restrictions in budget and the inexperience of the cast and crew, they needed something more to pull this bloody mess together.
The anamorphic 1.78:1 transfer is clean and sharp but the image remains dull. There is little depth on the digitally shot feature and the colours that have been purposefully drained from the image leave a grey and flat viewing experience.
Presented in 5.1 or 2.0, the sound is surprisingly good. Clear and free of hiss, the audio doesn't make full use of the surround mix but there are some effective moments where the soundtrack truly enhances one of the gruesome shocks.
Extra Features
The theatrical trailer and a minimal stills gallery.
The Verdict
Great idea, poorly executed. Gruesome tries desperately to be clever and pull the wool over the viewer's ideas. Unfortunately, no matter how ingenious the filmmakers think they are, the resulting film just doesn't work. Look past the vicious murders and tricky editing and there is nothing there to hold the attention.
Movie Score
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