Auteur
R0 - America - MVD Visual
Review written by and copyright: Eric Cotenas (20th July 2015).
The Film

Director Cameron Romero's – son of Pittsburgh genre auteur George Romero – follow up to Staunton Hill (IMDb credits a few more features in between, but the former feature appears to be the only one readily available) is not particularly scare or compelling, but does interest as a sort of multi-layered rant/confessional/self-exorcism of a sort. Horror film buff/studio executive's son Jack Humphreys (B.J. Hendricks) has decided to make a documentary film about Charlie Buckwald (Ian Hutton), the next great voice in horror cinema who had a nervous breakdwon and disappeared with all of the raw footage and only copies of the workprint of his last film Demonic, the shooting of the climactic exorcism of which ended in tragedy. As he uses his father's networking connections to put him in touch with people who worked on the film, he finds them unwilling to talk about the film, only noting the extreme pressure the exacting Buckwald was under and the extreme personality change as once naοve hopeful starlet Kate Rivers (Madeline Merritt) came to fully inhabit her role. Slinky, if unbalanced, seductress Kate seems interested in finding the director and her film rather than talking about the final scene while co-star Tom Sizemore (as himself) – in self-contained scenes in which he could very well be off the wagon – keeps Jack on edge with abusive outbursts while ranting about Hollywood. When an anonymous postcard clues Jack into Buckwald's whereabouts, he has to work up his nerve to confront the filmmaker turned derelict in order to achieve his real mission: to retrieve the film that his father funded. As he develops a precarious trust with Buckwald, he learns that of the methods the possibly schizophrenic filmmaker took to ensure the authenticity of the film's exorcism scene and the consequences of it.

Through Buckwald, director Romero himself seems to simultaneously bemoan the lack of originality in Hollywood that makes filmmakers afraid to try new things while shouting to the rooftops that he is not the next George Romero. This does not excuse, however, the film's indifferent performances, lack of suspense, and the flashbacks of the exorcism sequence that reveal a lack of imagination in the staging of the film and film within a film that suggest that Buckwald's problem with inauthenticity had their origins in the conception of the project rather than the ability of his starlet. While there is a degree of passivity on the part of a protagonist as filmmaker (particularly a documentarian), the amiable Hendricks does not manage to convey the hunger of a would be filmmaker looking for a leg up or the frustrated voyeur of a fan for whom seeing Buckwald's final film – after being teased with some of his unreleased shot-on-VHS works of his youth – becomes more important than his shot at fame and a payoff from his father; that he spends more time time in front of the camera followed by Cameron Romero himself as his cameraman also detracts from the voyeuristic aspect of the faux-documentary. Hutton's intense filmmaker is the more interesting character with no one to play off of (although it could be argued that another character is the true "auteur" directing the documentary's events, and it is neither the fictional filmmakers or the cameraman). Sizemore's screentime, reportedly a single twenty-minute uninterrupted take, may represent for many the film's sole point of interest but I would be interested to see what Romero the younger takes on next after getting this off his chest.

Video

MVD's anamorphic presentation adequately represents the varied "filmic" textures from contrasty outdoor video to slicker-looking talking head shots and noisier dark interiors to the more professional-looking film-within-a-film shots. Oddly, the documentary scenes are framed at 1.85:1 while the flashbacks and film-within-a-film footage is framed at 1.78:1.
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Audio

The Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack suits the talky nature of the film and is only mildly diverting during the exorcism sequence and the climax.
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Extras

There are no extras apart from the trailer (1:09).
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Overall

 


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