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Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: A Thousand Cuts

March 16th, 2013

A Thousand Cuts - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray

A Thousand Cuts is only the second feature-length film from writer / director Charles Evered. It is a low-budget horror film that was released direct-to-DVD. That's usually a recipe for low expectations. Can this film rise above the average for the genre?

The Movie

The film begins at a party at a filmmaker's house with the usual trappings. There are people doing drugs, people making deals, lots of beautiful ladies. Lance is throwing the party to celebrate the success of his latest in a string of low-budget torture porn hits. He's let the fame get to his head and he's turned into a complete ass. The only one he's nice to is his sister, Melanie. One guest, Frank, is first turned away by the bouncer before sneaking in. All we see him do is stand around and look at Lance.

The party ends when the lights go out and someone leaves a picture of Lance and Melanie's mother with R.I.P. written on it. Their mother killed herself years ago. After the lights go out a second time, Lance ends the party and tells all of his guests to leave. Frank sticks around and fixes the lights pretending to be an electrician the security guy called. Lance invites him into his house for a beer. They start talking and at first Lance is relieved to talk to someone not in the movie business. Lance wants Melanie to talk to the guy as well, as she's not interested in his movies either. However, she's no longer there.

Shortly after that, Frank and Lance start talking about A Thousand Cuts, Lance's first movie. In university, he made an art house allegory based on the ancient Chinese method of executing people, in which people were killed over the course of several days one small cut at a time. In his student film, he used a flower in place of a human victim, but when his agent saw it, he told him to make it torture porn. It was a huge hit and has spawned two sequels. It turns out Frank knows all about A Thousand Cuts, because his daughter was murdered in a copycat attack based on this movie. He's come to get revenge.

At first, Lance gets the jump on Frank knocking him unconscious and taping him to a chair. However, Frank has a ace up his sleeve. He's kidnapped Melanie and put her somewhere where she doesn't have a lot of air. At first Lance doesn't believe Frank, but soon it is clear Frank is in charge.

A Thousand Cuts is less than 75 minutes long, not including credits, yet somehow it feels really padded. The scenes at the party take up just over 10 minutes, and outside establishing Lance is an ass, and seeding a couple of plot points, it is a waste. When the plot finally gets going, it is a slow moving game of psychological cat and mouse between two lead characters. This is a premise that can work and has in films like Hard Candy, Sleuth, Nothing, and others. However, for that to work, you need to be able to build tension, and in my opinion, that never happened in this movie. With no tension, there's almost nothing to keep your attention. The film does have an interesting message about the impact of media on people and if the creators should be held accountable, but it doesn't deliver the message in a compelling enough way to have an impact.

The Extras

There are no real extras on the Blu-ray, just a trailer and an image gallery. Additionally, the video and audio quality are subpar. It is a low-budget movie and you can tell. Any time the movie gets too dark, we lose lots of details. Even the brightly lit scenes are below average in that regard. The audio is better, but since it is a dialogue driven drama, it should come as no surprise that there's not a lot of activity in the surround sound speakers. Finally there's the price. The Blu-ray cost 33% or $5 more than the DVD, which is acceptable, but not a good deal.

The Verdict

The cover of A Thousand Cuts makes it look like Torture Porn, but it is not. It is a movie that tries to look at the impact Torture Porn has on its viewer and whether the creators should bare some responsibility for that. Unfortunately, the film lacks tension, which makes for a slow go. There are no extras on the DVD or the Blu-ray, so unless you are a big fan of the two leads, you can safely give this one a pass.

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Filed under: Video Review, A Thousand Cuts, Michael O'Keefe, Olesya Rulin, Michael A. Newcomer, Charles Evered