Tuesday, August 22, 2017

VODepths: 'Cut Shoot Kill,' 'Hickok,' 'My Hot Property'

Cut Shoot Kill (Alexandra Socha, Alex Hurt, Jay Devore, dir. Michael Walker) Filmmakers love making movies about making movies, but I think horror filmmakers love doing this most of all. Cut Shoot Kill is a horror movie about the making of a horror movie, in which the actors are actually getting killed in their death scenes. So it's sort of a meta-slasher film, with Alexandra Socha as an up-and-coming actress who plays the Final Girl in both the movie within the movie and the movie itself. Alex Hurt plays the homicidal director, who of course views murder as an extension of his art, and his resemblance to Eli Roth (whether intentional or not) gives the fairly rudimentary story an extra layer of commentary. Mostly it follows the familiar slasher formula, as Socha's Serena and her fellow actors are picked off one by one as they shoot their movie at a remote location in the woods. The ending tries to turn the movie into some kind of female empowerment story, which doesn't really fit with the preceding action, and sort of undermines Serena's position as the hero. Even if the story is underwhelming, there are still some suspenseful moments and gruesome kills, plus an amusing supporting performance from Jay Devore as the director's eager-to-please assistant, who's really polite about all the murdering his boss is doing. Available on Amazon and elsewhere.

Hickok (Luke Hemsworth, Trace Adkins, Cameron Richardson, dir. Timothy Woodward Jr.) While his brothers Chris and Liam star in Hollywood blockbusters and get regular coverage in celebrity gossip magazines, Luke Hemsworth is sort of the Daniel Baldwin of Hemsworths. The best he can do for a starring role is this low-budget biopic about Wild Bill Hickok, a heavily fictionalized account of the legendary gunfighter's time as the marshal of Abilene, Kansas. It's a straightforward and extremely dull Western, with a bright, flat visual style, threadbare sets and wooden acting; save for a couple of gratuitous sex scenes, it could be a '90s basic-cable movie. Hemsworth does his best to sound manly and angsty as Wild Bill, who's trying to settle down and go straight as a lawman, but his performance isn't particularly convincing. It's better than most of the rest of the cast, though, especially country singer Trace Adkins as the movie's ineffectual villain, a saloon owner who's barely even threatening until the movie's almost over. Kris Kristofferson and Bruce Dern bring a bit of dignity to their supporting roles as the town's mayor and doctor, respectively, but they're mostly there to give Hickok sage advice via poorly written platitudes. Even the final gunfight is underwhelming, without much suspense. Wild Bill dispatches the bad guys and rides off with barely a shrug. Available on Amazon and elsewhere.

My Hot Property (MyAnna Buring, Tom Rhys Harries, Kate Bracken, dir. Max McGill) Something may be lost in the cultural transition with this British comedy about a posh corporate spy (MyAnna Buring) who loses her job and goes to extreme lengths to hold onto her fancy London apartment. I don't know anything about the real estate boom in London or the gentrification of the area where Buring's Melody lives, so some of the potential satire may have gone over my head. Even so, this is a pretty flimsily constructed comedy, with character relationships established so abruptly that it seems like entire scenes have been cut out (not entirely unlikely given the barely 80-minute running time). The characters are all pretty cartoonish, without much bite to their satirical targets (Melody's vapid boyfriend is a hipster chef who makes food that deliberately tastes bad). The plot unfolds without much internal logic and resolves in the same way, and the efforts at emotional resonance in the relationship between Melody and her brother (whose parents died tragically) fall flat. Maybe some trendy Londoners would find something funny here, though. Available on Netflix.

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