Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Triskaidekaphilia: '1313: Actor Slash Model' (2011)

On the 13th of each month, I write about a movie whose title contains the number 13.
According to Wikipedia, Z-grade filmmaker David DeCoteau has made more than 90 feature films in the past 25 years, and his latest assembly-line brand is the 1313 series, quickie straight-to-video "thrillers" marketed to a gay male audience despite containing no actual gay content whatsoever. Instead, these movies, all of which run less than 80 minutes and many of which were apparently shot in the same prefab mansion, feature shirtless young hunks wandering around aimlessly, working out, swimming and occasionally stumbling across something resembling a plot. There's no sex or even kissing, and no nudity beyond the kind of shirtlessness you could find in an Abercrombie & Fitch catalog.

Despite my dedication to this ongoing project, I have no intention of watching more than one of these 1313 movies, which by all accounts are interchangeable. So I picked what may be the first one (it's hard to tell, since DeCoteau churns them out so quickly), Actor Slash Model, which is at least a somewhat clever title for the story of a disgruntled actor murdering the pretty-boy models who keep getting the parts he wants. But as indicated above, the movie spends maybe 10-15 minutes on the actual plot, which boils down to the killer wandering around the empty mansion and killing vapid hunks one by one. DeCoteau is so focused on beefcake that he doesn't even bother delivering any thrills; the killer carries around what looks like a small kitchen knife, and each murder scene cuts away before we can see the actual stabbing. The knife is always clean afterward; it's as if the production didn't even have the budget for some fake blood and a prop knife.

DeCoteau's idea of suspense is to blare loud, "ominous" music over endless scenes of actors slowly walking through the empty house, calling out "Hello?" over and over again (these scenes go on for literally three or four minutes at a time). The actors are good-looking in a generic way, but, perhaps in an inadvertent nod to the plot, give terrible performances, and some can't even keep the other character names straight between scenes (DeCoteau's other "suspense" technique of replaying previous dialogue over the lengthy walking scenes ends up repeating one particularly egregious name mix-up over and over again).

I guess these movies must be some sort of success with gay viewers, because DeCoteau has made at least 14 of them (again, according to Wikipedia), but to me they seem insulting and condescending. DeCoteau panders to his audience by showcasing shirtless hunks, but then backs off from any themes or dialogue or plot points that might be relevant to the people he's supposedly trying to reach. I'm sure he'd defend his work as harmless fluff, but it's really just tedious nonsense, and anyone looking to ogle shirtless dudes can find numerous better ways to do so.

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