Wednesday 20 October 2010

Nice Guys Finish Dead (2010)

Director: Peter Binswanger
Stars: Rob Rusli and Alexandra San Román
This film was an official selection at the 6th annual International Horror & Sci-Fi Film Festival in Tempe in 2010. Here's an index to my reviews of 2010 films.

While most horror shorts nowadays seem to be mostly about zombies, there's usually at least one per festival that has its roots in the slasher genre. Usually they're outright spoofs, like Friday the 13th: Jason Goes Shopping, because the ones that take themself seriously tend to suck and fail to make the cut. The slashers get slashed. Nice Guys Finish Dead made it so it's a spoof, but it's one that was made by someone who knows the genre well. Every cliché in the book (and its inevitable sequel) is here and some are milked incessantly in the way that Family Guy milks its jokes, beating them to death until they're funny again. There's the tripping cliché, the stumbling into the scene at the wrong moment cliché, the summer camp spooky story cliché. Everything happens next to a corpse, or a stack of them, and nobody notices. The title appears twice, as the logical moment for it is interrupted by a necking couple walking into frame, so we do it all again.

As a spoof it's capable and funny but nothing special. Sometimes poking fun at the slasher flicks of the eighties seems like poking fun at a cripple or, at best, redundant because the best spoofs are the originals. As an actual slasher film it's capable, with no shortage of slaughter and decent effects to back it up. For the gorehounds out there who care about the details, the mask is a welder's shield with the eyes covered (my favourite deliberate bit of dumbness) and the weapon of choice is a customised shovel. For those who can see past the gore, it's the romance that holds this one together, an unlikely one that makes it to a beautifully insane romantic ending, one that would also naturally work well as the setup for a sequel. Philadelphia filmmaker Peter Binswanger is experienced, with both film and summer camp, given that he made an animated film in summer camp, while still in elementary school, that made it to a Japanese film festival.

The acting from inexperienced leads Rob Rusli and Alexandra San Román is, well, inexperienced, but then nobody watches a slasher movie for its acting talent, so perhaps that's merely another detail of authenticity. The cigarette use and faded Eastmancolor tone help make it authentic too. Rusli is Reynold, the villain of the piece, and San Román is Kelli, one of the camp counselors, the one he has the hots for. In another neat movie reference, she gets a clichéd strum and hum at the campfire but she hums Singin' in the Rain. I'm not sure about anyone else but I was thinking about Malcolm McDowell not Gene Kelly. Kelli's story to scare the kids is all about Reynold, who comes back on the last day of camp to wreak havoc. And hey, it's the last day of camp, so no prizes for guessing what comes next. But hey, you out there reading this, tonight's the last day of camp too and Reynold likes to kill people who stop reading at the end of this review...


TatoBins said...

Hey, awesome blog. These are all super spot on. Thanks for the review.

Hal C. F. Astell said...

Thanks for the movie!