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Disappointing Slasher Flick Fails To Make The Cut
on June 26, 2014
I do watch an awful lot of horror movies, and – being perfectly honest – modern-day attempts at traditional slasher gore inspire me the least. Why? Well, the biggest reason is that most filmmakers don’t bring anything new to the game. Instead of amping up the carnage or delivering some great pop and sizzle with the body count they’re far more interested in turning out something that’s practically a shot-for-shot retread of so many things that have already been done before. It isn’t that I can’t appreciate your average killfest ‘cause I do. It’s just that I wish folks would actually reinvigorate a genre with new blood instead of revisiting all of the dried up tropes of yesteryear.
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and/or characters. If you’re the type of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last three paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
From the product packaging: “In this 80s style slasher with a new school twist, nine vacationing twenty-somethings travel to a posh timeshare cabin in Cutter’s Creek for a hedonistic weekend. But their weekend of boozing and sex turns to horror when an axe-wielding local legend comes to life!”
Meh. Perhaps I’ve watched too much horror to appreciate a true homage the way other viewers can as I found so very much of AXEMAN to embrace far too much of the pretentiousness of its principal characters. And – for that matter – the Axeman himself is barely in this, showing up in far too few sequences, especially considering the runtime (way too long, by the way) clocks in at a lethargy-inducing 103 minutes. I’m all for carnage; I just hate spacing it out so much. There’s far too much time spent on folks you know aren’t going to survive the picture anyway; getting to know them better only makes you wish the Axeman wasn’t in so small supply or maybe brought along his friend – ‘The Stabber’ – who could’ve kept busy, too.
What works well in pictures of this nature is that the victims fit a certain profile. Sure, every one of them is more self-absorbed than the next, and – in that respect – the script turns a single into a double. There are former jocks. There are wannabe success stories. There are frisky lesbians. There’s the young couple just trying to find one another again. There’s the interracial pair. If only one of them knew how to act, then maybe AXEMAN wouldn’t have seemed so cut on the lines.
One of the chief reasons to sit and enjoy even the most formulaic slasher picture is because of the visceral thrill that goes hand-in-hand with watching the usual suspects get effectively hacked to pieces one after another. Viewers can revel in the fact that the axe-wielding maniac is secretly doing mankind a service, offing this bunch of self-obsessed twentysomethings and saving us from having to make small talk with them at the corner Starbucks. Is there any greater sublime release than watching the quarterback finally go down on something other than a cheerleader? Is there any greater satisfaction than watching that plastic Penny with the perfect hair, perfect boobs, and perfect butt bleeding out on the floor of some backwoods cabin? In fact, right now I can’t think of any better reason to watch ANY slasher flick!
Sadly, AXEMAN shows up in shockingly short supply in a film bearing his name. To worsen matters, when he does, he uses the axe but the blood and gore are left off-screen! Can you believe that? Writer/director Joston Theney doesn’t even give the audience the satisfaction of witnessing the grand comeuppance of these stock characters he created; instead, he throws in some squirts and spurts of catsup and expects us to forgive him for it. Well, I won’t.
AXEMAN (aka AXEMAN AT CUTTER’S CREEK) (2013) is produced by Blood Red Films. DVD distribution is being handled by Midnight Releasing. As for the technical specifications? Meh. I don’t want to make too much of it, so I’ll just say that there’s some good and some bad audio work, but the video work and cinematography is surprisingly uninspired, even for a slasher picture. Lastly, if it’s special features you want, then prepare for the disappointment: there aren’t any.
(MILDLY) RECOMMENDED. Bland, bland, and more bland. Because I do tend to appreciate horror and gore more than the next online critic, I can forgive some script holes or logic burps (there are more than I care to recount here); but what I can’t tolerate is being bored for 103 minutes. Yes, writer/director Theney had a recipe he was clearly following, but his mix lacks the depth, consistency, and flavor that a more learned perspective may’ve brought to this material. It isn’t a complete waste, but it’s pretty close. On the plus side? Well, the frisky lesbians do neck a lot.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Midnight Releasing provided me with a DVD copy of AXEMAN by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review; and their contribution to me in no way, shape, or form influenced my opinion of it.