On paper there’s not really anything original or innovative about CUT, it’s essentially the tale of a group of friends trapped in an isolated location while a sinister killer stalks them. However, what is remarkable about CUT is that it is ambitiously presented in one long, continuous 60 odd minute take. Now while I’m aware that this isn’t thoroughly original technique, I know Hitchcock experimented with the concept in ‘Rope’ and I’m fairly certain I have previously heard mention of another more recent horror movie that utilised the same principle, I do still have to admire the audacity and skill of the attempt and the divinely bold claim of it being ‘The World's first single continuous shot Horror/Thriller Feature Film’. Awesome! Also, I’m a bit enamoured of the fact that, really, CUT operates like theatre, super scary killer theatre. It does a remarkably successful job of employing aspects of the two disciplines to create an experimental, yet accessible, piece of cinema that is both exciting and fresh. One nice outcome of this is that the audience is allowed to almost participate in the action, the fourth wall is all but removed and we are essentially invited right into the action almost like an additional member of the endangered gang.
CUT is the story of five friends who, following some manner of probably very glamourous party, return to spend the night in a picturesque and suitably isolated house in England’s charming Peak District. Unfortunately for them their after party is unceremoniously ruined by the dawning realisation that, contrary to popular belief, the Peak District is not merely a scenic holiday destination in the north of England mainly populated by ramblers and the occasional twitcher, but rather it is a hotbed of stalking nutcases eager to menace visiting urbanites.
We are introduced to Jack (Zach Galligan or ((Billy from Gremlins to you and me)).) and his buddy Michael (Dominic Burns ((who looks a bit like my BFF Kev, but you don’t need to know that)).) indulging in a comedy bicker fest as they chivalrously debate the pro and cons of copping a sneaky eyeful or indeed feel of one their lady friends while she drunkenly unconscious, but, hell, what’s a little borderline sexual assault between friends? The pair are fortunately rumbled by Billy from Gremlins girlfriend Natalie (Lauri Brewster) who, while less disturbed by this turn of events than she probably should be, is understandably irate.
We then continue the action with Andy (Simon Phillips) who is engaged in a battle of wills with a local pizza delivery service and as the other characters mill downstairs and begin interacting we are given a pretty clear idea of the dynamics that will underpin the rest of the movie. In anticipation of the imminent arrival of crazy our merry band of friends pass the time with dilatory banter, passive aggressive insults and general well meaning bickering, as is the British way. We also learn that Michael has been harbouring some kind of secret that is slowly filtering its way around the group and that Andy is planning to write the great British horror novel and has a great idea for an urban myth that he has no intention of disclosing because it’s just too great, so our time here isn’t wasted.
Then things start to get weird, phone lines get cut, gnomes get systematically massacred, pizza gets delivered and the gang begin to realise they are far from alone. The rest of the movie sees the friends fighting for their lives with kind of British resolve that induces you to wield a bedpan as a suitable deterrent to psychotic killers.
CUT has a lot of things going for it; the concept is refreshing and predominantly executed well, the cast is charming, the murderous killers are suitably creepy and the location provides the ideal balance between quaint, rural idyll and claustrophobic, inescapable nightmare. The only real downside is the audio, at times it was difficult to make out the dialogue, one cast member in particular sounded like he was underwater a lot of the time, and often the music was overwhelming and equally impeding, however, given the ambition of the production it’s hardly surprising that there were difficulties. Naturally, given the conceit, the gore factor and visible kills are low and sometimes the altercations between victims and killers seem a little clumsy, but the tension is built nicely and effectively sustained throughout and the kills that are visible are credible.
In terms of the comedic, bantering style of dialogue I have previously alluded to, this was often hit and miss, at times it was genuinely amusing but there were occasions when did appear somewhat awkward and less effective. Again though this is small concede given the overall scope and I am appreciative to the mechanics and the skill involved in crafting the script that had to accommodate not just creative and character aspects but also technical considerations such as time for costumes changes and for resetting other cast members and scenes.
Not my BFF Kev and Andy (Simon Phillips)
CUT is worth watching for a lot of reasons and I would advise you take the time to give it view even if it’s only as a show of respect for the sheer effort, preparation and ingenuity that went into the production. The blocking and timing of both the cast and crew throughout would have had to have been meticulously calculated and the energy of the ensemble actors is remarkable considering the amount of repeated takes it must have taken to compensate for the smallest visible mistake from the cast or crew.
Writer and director Alexander Williams (who I believe is actually actor Dominic Burns who also plays Michael and looks a bit like my BFF Kev if you recall) does an impressive job with such an ambitious project, CUT is daring and different and it’s also exciting, not necessarily in terms of the story and the action, though that’s commendable too, but more the freshness of the concept and the potential for future ventures. It’s also nice to see Billy from Gremlins out and about again.