Re-Cut, the debut feature of writer/director Fritz Manger, is an accomplished attempt at exploring the form of first-person horror. By using various popular techniques, a series of sequences are engineered, each of which intriguing, although some work better than others. Re-Cut is therefore a great example of how this subgenre works its magic, but also highlights some of its core flaws.The film follows a pair of student filmmakers, out to make a documentary about a reality TV star turned news reporter, who recruits them as her camera crew in return for an interview. The audience is also treated to some grisly shots of a horrific murder taking place, and it soon becomes apparent that the action has been put together from a number of different cameras, as opposed to the usual single hand-held method. This highlights the power of perspective, as the cuts between the more traditional sequences switch with what we are led to believe is a snuff film.
The notion of ‘reality’ is one which has very much been in the spotlight over the last decade or so, and as TV has become more fixated on reality shows, the simulation of real life has become the fashionable angle in horror. However, throughout the history of the genre, films have claimed to be ‘based on a true story’, but the found-footage stable seems to have taken this to the next level. Re-Cut plays on this cleverly, by casting a former reality contestant as herself (Meredith Phillips, of US show The Bachelorette). What we have here then appears to be a prod at the reality-obsessed world of TV, which simultaneously uses the phenomenon to achieve more effective, creative results.
Some of the film’s aims, then, are admirable for their bold take on the form, although it has to be said that it is hamstrung somewhat as a piece of entertainment, by a slightly predictable story. The main cast do a decent job, and the supporting actors foster a suitably creepy air as the dangerous hillbillies. Plot twists will be spotted a mile off, but one element which is extremely well judged is the location and settings. These are what give the film crew scenes an air of menace to thrive on, as we are guided through a chilling abandoned farmhouse here, or a spooky barn there. Without giving away spoilers, some of the sets are so frightening as to recall genre classics such as The Wicker Man. In a way, this is also the film’s biggest weakness; in incorporating—inadvertently or otherwise—elements reminiscent of horror sources as diverse as House of 1000 Corpses and The Blair Witch Project, large portions feel a little derivative.
All in all, Re-Cut may fail to get the recognition the ambition of its creators deserve, but can be applauded for its original technical approach, despite a somewhat over-familiar plot. Well worth a look on DVD for enthusiasts of the first-person approach, although it will probably struggle to attract non-believers.
Re-Cut is available on DVD and Blu-ray from 18 April