Cut Shoot Kill (2017)

An actress hoping for her big break takes a part in a horror film being shot in the backwoods by a team of filmmakers who have worked together all their lives.  Soon after they begin shooting, cast members begin disappearing.  Wanting her chance at stardom, the young actress must make some hard choices.

Written and directed by Michael Walker, Cut Shoot Kill is a sort of meta-slasher film where the cast plays people involved in the making of what looks to be a slasher film so they are very aware of what is going on in one way while not knowing what is going on in another.  This may sound unclear or complicated but it works fairly well.  Some scenes the viewer will end up a little bit lost, but with attention and a bit of time, it all makes sense.  This meta horror film is different than the few more famous ones of this sub-genre, such as Scream, but that is what sets it apart from the rest.  It doesn’t aim for sarcasm or comedy, but it does manage to create something interesting in terms of story and form.  The film is written in a way that takes all these ideas about a meta slasher with film within a film and makes sense of them in a way that is entertaining.  The direction helps create cohesion and a sense of logic within the story.

The cast is led by Alexandra Socha as Serena Brooks who does good work with her double part as her character is also the lead actress in the film within the film.  She manages to have a bit of variation between the two characters and gives a performance that feel as real as it can in film such as this.  Playing the director of the film within the film is Alex Hurt as Alabama Chapman, a character he gives life to in a sort of skeevy, sort of might just be ok for the first part of the film and then he settles on one once things get really going.  His work helps set the tone once the characters get to the backwoods location.  The way he plays his part felt like a mix of a few directors one can meet on the horror convention circuit selling their films, a lot of them set in the backwoods, and talking shop like he does here.  Rounding out the main cast is Phil Burke as Blake Stone the more experienced actor on the set.  Burke takes this part and makes it look and feel like he is indeed the most experienced in terms of his profession and in terms of being on a professional set.  The rest of the cast gives good to slightly annoying performances as some are earnestly working towards realism in their parts while other give clichéd, caricatures of southern people that ends up more annoying than endearing.

As this is a slasher of sorts, there are some special effects and they look good.  The team led by special effects coordinator Doug Sakman does good work here, but it feels like it’s a bit minimal compared to how far it could have gone.  This is due to how the film is written and not how the effects team worked.  That being said, what there is looks good with blood that looks nice, dark, and gooey.  The few more complex pieces of effects are decent looking.

Cut Shoot Kill is an entertaining meta horror film that takes a sub-genre mostly seen as comedies and goes a darker route.  The film has some great ideas and executes them well with a good lead cast and some more than decent blood.  It won’t necessarily satisfy the thirstiest of gore hounds, but it’s an fun watch that could easily attract a few non-horror fans into the fold.  It’s intelligently written and well done with a story that takes typical horror tropes and plays with them enough to make them feel fresh.