The appearance of the Australian movie Cut announced the timely end of a cycle kicked off by Wes Craven's Scream (1996). Although that film injected the horror genre with a revitalised wit and sophistication, its many imitations quickly plummeted to the lowest, least imaginative depths.
There is scarcely any difference between Cut and the dreariest slasher horror-comedies of the '80s. A group of filmmaking students, led by Raffy (Jessica Napier), attempt to finish a movie called Hot-Blooded – an abandoned production seemingly cursed by mysterious outbreaks of gruesome murder.
Writer Dave Warner (once a droll fixture of the Aussie pop scene) seems unable to delineate clearly or effectively the tangle of relationships between the characters, or relate these in any amusing or meaningful way to the ceaseless rampage of death. The film is bereft of even the most elemental, baseline level of intrigue.
There is nothing to admire in this movie beyond the natural appeal of some of the young cast and a couple of clever sound effects. But it is surely a sad day when one is reduced to concentrating one's critical faculties on the noises made by sharp blades swishing in the air.
The reigning sensibility governing this exercise is dismally Australian. It grasps, at every turn, for the drawling, laconic laugh – the facile one-liner that deflates any serious intent and lamely mocks the conventions of a popular genre. Few films are so listlessly vulgar and shambling.
The only moments that work are those ephemeral bits of frantic action in which director Kimble Rendall (all too obviously weaned on music video and publicity assignments) and imported star Molly Ringwald deliver a scene straight.
Cut is a moronic film. As too often happens in local cinema, its cultural references are pathetically inexact. These supposedly hip film students refer to a magazine called The Cinema Papers, clutch ancient, daggy books and exclaim such gems as: "Horror movies can be just as political as Priscilla or The Piano." Excuse me?
At one point, these budding young geniuses of the cinematic medium speculate that their pesky serial killer may be "the sum total of the creative energies that went into the film". In the case of Cut, this sum total is alarmingly slight.
© Adrian Martin March 2000