I must admit before proceeding any further, and for what it’s worth to how you react to this review, I haven’t seen One Cut of the Dead, the 2017 Japanese horror/comedy of which this film, Final Cut, is the French remake/reimagining of. I’m totally aware of One Cut of the Dead’s notoriety and acclaim, and after enjoying the hell out of Final Cut, it’s one that I’m even more excited to visit now! In saying all of that… on with the review!
Looking like a C-grade, 1970s horror shlock-fest, Z is the story of a zombie film set that is ravaged by… real zombies. Members of the cast and crew begin to succumb to a rumoured curse that brings people back to life, leaving the 3 lead actors forced to fight for their lives. However, the main thing that sticks out with Z, is that it’s not a very good movie, at all.
The crappy makeup and effects, actors awkwardly improvising when they forget lines, and camera work that misses crucial moments of action and terror – Z is a truly bad movie, but one that is endearingly hilarious. The seemingly unintentional hilarity and over the top nature of what is occurring in this film makes for terribly enjoyable viewing! And, if you walk into this movie blind (much like I did), a weird sense of reality soon kicks in, and as it turns out, Z just isn’t about a movie within a movie… it is the movie within a movie!
For the first 40 minutes of Final Cut, I was having a gloriously fun (and quite silly) time. An incredibly shoddy-looking, poorly acted, cheap feeling zombie film with a ludicrous storyline – all filmed in one-take – played out before me! And then something clicked. I knew this was a 110-minute long movie. How could they possibly keep this level of insanity and humour going without it becoming boring, stale and repetitive?
That’s when writer and director Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist) completely subverts and upends the film, taking the story back to a month before the events of the first act. What follows does slow the pacing down a touch, but it’s a necessary lead up to what is a truly hilarious and fantastic third act that is full of tie-ups, call backs and some of the most ‘inside baseball’ satire of amateur filmmaking that I have ever seen!
Final Cut is the best kind of chaos, because it’s a true reflection of what it’s like making films. Unruly and demanding actors, crazy producers with skewed creative visions, and directors who sacrifice integrity of their art for ‘cheap, quick and decent’ jobs. Hazanavicius seems to go all in on all aspects of the film industry, but it never comes across as an attack on these things, rather it’s a love letter to everyone who has endured it by making light fun of it!
Hazanavicius’ ability to balance smart, sincere satire with insanely stupid slapstick is truly amazing to watch on screen, and provides two very different senses of humour that combine together well to make Final Cut feel like a movie that doesn’t give you a chance to breathe due to how much you’ll be laughing. Also thrown in there for good measure, but not as explored as it could’ve been, is a touching subplot about the film’s director (within the movie) and his daughter who too wants to be a filmmaker, but is disappointed by her father’s lack of motivation to make something great.
The cast of Final Cut are fantastic throughout, covering a variety of stereotypes of amateur filmmaking, such as the prima donnas, the method actors, the drunk, and most importantly the director who stars in his own film. With the amount of ridiculousness that takes place throughout the film, the actors have an uphill battle to keep the audience engaged and believing that what’s happening is genuine and authentic within the movie’s world, and they all pull it off with ease, often with a shining moment for each character.
Final Cut is chaotically wild, downright hilarious, trope subverting satire. Stick with the insanity and unconventional story-telling method, because the payoffs that happen along the way are absolutely worth it!
Final Cut is currently showing at the Brisbane International Film Festival. Head to www.biff.com.au for session times and ticketing information.
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