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Featured Review: Raymond Did It

April 21st, 2011

Raymond Did It

Raymond Did It is an ultra-low-budget horror film that was practically self-distributed, playing only a few shows in a couple theaters. They are looking to book the film in additional theaters in the future before it comes out on the home market. Is this a film that is worth the wait?

The Movie

We are introduced to the Rourke family during happier times. The mother is making dinner while the two kids, Raymond and Bryce, are watching cartoons. It's a day filled with good news. Raymond is "developmentally challenged" but it looks like he'll be able to graduate high school this year. Also, from the sounds of the phone call we hear, his father just got a raise. When Bryce's friends come over and go out to play, Raymond wants to tag along. While Raymond is older that Bryce, his developmental problems mean he is almost like the little brother in this case. Their mother makes Bryce take Raymond with him, but that turns out to be a mistake.

Bryce's friends are mostly not very nice to Raymond. While his mother calls him Ray-Ray, Paige calls him Re-Re, as in Retard. The only one who is nice to him is Tammy, who suggests he stand-up for himself. When he does, Paige reacts... poorly. The end result is Raymond being knocked unconscious, and when Bryce tries to hit Paige in retaliation, she accidentally kills him. After a moment of stunned shock, Paige, Edgar, Tim, and Jayme run off. Only Tammy stays behind to help, but there's nothing she or Raymond can do. Paige decides they have to say Raymond hit her first, and when Bryce tried to defend Paige, Raymond killed Bryce. They run to Raymond and Bryce's home to tell their mother their side of the story.

We flash forward six years and the kids have grown up and are getting ready to graduate. Tammy, the only one who wasn't part of the initial cover-up, has drifted away from the rest of the group. But she's dragged to a pre-graduation party by Edgar, who convinces her to take a night off from taking care of her grandmother. She spots Paige getting stoned by the pool with her boyfriend, Simon, but Edgar again steps in and convinces her to just have a good time. Then she reunites with Jayne, who is with Tim and the whole gang is there. It's not a happy reunion and seeing them all brings up bad memories for Tammy. It's also the eve of the six-year anniversary of Bryce's death. That's too much for her to bear, so she leaves the party early.

The next day Tammy visits Bryce's grave and on the way home she hears on the radio that Raymond has escaped. Tammy immediately heads to Raymond's mother, but Mrs. Rourke bought the other kids' story completely and blames Raymond for everything that's happened, including her divorce. Tammy next calls Paige; despite the bad blood between the two, she wants to warn her, but that doesn't go over too well. Paige does take the warning seriously enough to go to Jayne to discuss the problem. They can't go to the cops, because there's too great a chance the cops would figure out they framed Raymond. The plan is to get together later that night and take care of things on their own.

Raymond has other plans.

At this point we run into unacceptable spoiler territory. The film is a teenage slasher and the rest of the plot deals mostly with kills. There are a few character points here and there, as well as some nudity (you can't have a teenage slasher without nudity) but we get too many kills to discuss the plot further.

The film reportedly cost $40,000 to make, more or less, but fortunately for the most part it doesn't show. There are a couple scenes that are a little dark, but that could also be because I have a DVD-R screener, and not a full version of the movie. Overall a minor complaint. A lot of the actors are new and this is their first or second feature-length film, so some of the acting is a little sketchy at times, especially the prologue with the kids. Although this could also be an issue with the budget, as low budget means less time to rehearse and less time to do additional takes.

Fortunately, sketchy acting was not a problem with the three main leads: Lindsay Felton, as Tammy; Elissa Dowling, as Paige; and Kyle Hoskins, as Raymond. Granted, for much of the movie, Raymond doesn't have many lines and he just needed to be able to stand there are look menacing, but when called on, he delivered. (Case in point: his delivery of the tagline.) Elissa Dowling played Paige as a complete bitch, which may seem harsh, but it is more polite than the term that was used in the movie. She's the true villain of the movie and she puts her experience in dozens of low-budget horror films to good use. Finally there's Lindsay Felton, who started acting when she was ten, was the lead in Caitlin's Way, and more recently was totally robbed during the first season of Scream Queens. As the only truly sympathetic character, if her performance as Tammy didn't work, the film wouldn't work. She's give the best performance in the movie and I look forward to seeing her in more films in the future.

The movie is a teenage slasher, so we should probably talk about the kills in a non-spoiler way. There are a number of kills, some of which are quite inventive and are filled with gore. However, and this is a minor spoiler, the best ones happen early in Raymond's killing spree and the final couple almost seem anti-climactic. Perhaps that was the result of the low budget. Maybe they just ran out of the money. For the most part the kills are not sadistic, so this is not torture porn. Thankfully. It has an old school feel to it, but in a good way.

One final note, the music was better than I was expecting.

The Verdict

$40,000 is a tiny amount of money. If the film cost 10 times that, it would still be considered very low budget. Raymond Did It doesn't feel like a micro-budget movie and it is certainly worth keeping an eye on. Maybe it will come to a theater near you. Maybe you'll have to wait till the home market. Regardless, it is worth checking out, so head over to the official site for any updates. I'm looking forward to grabbing the full DVD release when it comes out.

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