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'Cut' is an energetic piece of work which reeks of future cult followings. But don't be deceived by the presence of pop legend Kylie Minogue and 80's bratpacker Molly Ringwald, because 'Cut' is, in effect, not much better than recent US slasher efforts.

Raffy and Hester are two Film students who are determined to finish 'Hot Blooded', a notorious film which the university professor does not want them to touch. The production of 'Hot Blooded' is steeped in mystery. A decade ago, the director (Kylie Minogue), before shooting the climax scene, had her tongue gouged out by the actor who played the murderer - Scar Man - in the film. Since then the unfinished movie was shut up in a cabinet. The pair successfully win the rights to continue shooting and go about gathering a film crew (knife fodder) and begin to shoot 'Hot Blooded's final scenes at the original location. Little do they know that someone, or something, is planning to stop the film from being completed yet again.

The main problem with 'Cut' is budget and dialogue. The movie is bursting with clever ideas and interesting concepts yet hardly any reach their full potential: they all end up being hurled into a muddled mess, they play no part in the plot and are sometimes never explained! The idea that all the creative energy that went into 'Hot Blooded' is what created the killer is a great one, yet this is never built on. The audience are forced to believe this revelation in the final minutes of the film without any explanation! Other interesting plot points are Raffy and Hester's bisexual shenanigans, which although well shot, serve no purpose other than to scream to the audience "Bet you haven't seen this in a horror movie before!". We are also told that Raffy's mother was the original director of 'Hot Blooded'. Not only was this pretty obvious to the viewer in the first place, but Raffy, played by Jessica Napier, is a criminally underwritten role so we don't even get a smidgen of suppressed emotion nor any acts of revenge. Sarah Kants as Hester gets more screen time and perky dialogue eventhough she is hacked up halfway through the movie. It is in fact Hollywood veteran Molly Ringwald, the boisterous, fading star who returns to the set of 'Hot Blooded' to finish her scenes, who gets the juicy one-liners. Like Napier, she has limited screen time yet its almost as though she is highly aware of this and thus gives her all. As a result her amusing performance almost single handedly saves the rest of the amateur cast from looking foolish. As for Kylie Minogue I'm afraid her acting is strictly by the numbers, but she looks great glammed up in dowdy 80's costume. As for the fodder, and the body count is a healthy number, they are a curious mix of the ugly yet likeable, the pretty yet dull, and the annoying yet, well just plain irritating. Even Scar Man, who only gets to talk until the final reel, resembles Freddy Krueger too much for the audience to take him seriously.

The script appears to have been hacked up by Scar Man himself. Is 'Cut' trying to be individual and inventive by seperating itself from the 80's slasher genre or is it rejoicing in it? I ask this because aside from all the ironic quips and 'Do horror movies affect our psyche?' discussions, numerous members of the film crew still do stupid things. Chief fool is in fact cocky Hester who, because there is a weak reception on her mobile phone, ventures out into the dark woods (!) She then has a hacked up member of crew fall on her from a tree, of all places (in true 'Friday the 13th' 'stumbling across the victim' style). Of course, she runs in the opposite direction of the film set and straight into the arms of Scar Man. After scrambling about in the earth rather than actually using her legs to escape, she opts to hide in a shed stacked full of deadly garden weaponry, faffs about in the dark for a while and duly gets her head lopped off despite having several pointy things to defend herself with.

Scatty acting, wasted ideas, and an average screenplay (peppered with lazy ironic quips) are all the result of a small budget and little time. With more planning, a thoroughly worked out script and a few actors instead of unknowns dragged out of the local YMCA would have hauled 'Cut' out of a difficult rut. This is really a shame as it reflects badly on Molly Ringwald who has made a valuable contribution to the movie.

Now, I know I have made many critcisms about 'Cut' but let me assure you there's still a lot of fun to be had. Thank God for the SFX team and Kimble Rendall. The aforementioned directed 'Cut' and has made the final product look clean and stylish. Memorable moments such as the internet 'surf' sequence where the audience is thrown into the net and sites documenting the murder of the 'Hot Blooded' director are splashed all over the screen to the sound of heavy metal, is intriguing. You can tell that this scene came from the mind of a music video maestro. On the other hand some moments let the film down. Occasional poor lighting I can handle, but offing an important character (when they can't be bothered to spend a bit of cash on a gory special effect) by giving her a heart attack is scandalous! Another aspect of the film that is refreshing are the excellent special effects, and the ones used here either belong in a sci fi or a monster movie. Wholly unexpected in a horror movie, the effects go happily hand in hand with the gore, which is also very good quality. One yucky scene in particular has a police officer impaled on a garden tap. There are also plenty of convincing decapitations and even a bunch of immolations.

The directing, SFX and Molly Ringwald almost make up for a dry script, a few dozy characters and lost potential but as a whole the film stands up very well and is a good effort for a first time film director. It is no surprise therefore that the film was sold to almost every country across the globe. Furthermore, as the amusing final seconds of 'Cut' have told us, a sequel is in the works as we speak, which will most probably have a healthier budget and box office.

Simon Savory

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