Thursday, January 16, 2014

//SPCL RVW: Raze- When Women Fighting Gives You More Chills Than Thrills

Not that I'm sexist or anything (regardless of what my ill-informed acquaintances might say about me) but I couldn't put my finger on what it was about this movie that brought the horror into the mix. The story isn't so horrifying when you think about it- a group of women are abducted and forced into an underground mortal bare-knuckle tournament sporting, ironically, wife-beaters and those grey sweatpants I wear to bed. Something like that sounds like it would give some pervert a jump in the pants area, right? Why is it that by the end of the film, I felt more nauseous than anything?

Not that you wouldn't get the haze as soon as the film starts. You're greeted by a terrible impersonation of someone trying to figure out where they are (Rachel Nichols not trying) before she gets her head smashed in by Kiwi Zoe Bell (playing Kiwi Sabrina). Though, unlike most films of this genre, the story does develop in a lean fashion, giving you just the right amount of background information and not too little (I'm looking at you Hostel III) or too much (Hunger Games). Which is surprising when taking into account that I've seen this set up way too much to just lose me by the time the second act comes around.

No, this movie is different- it's not particularly exploitation, that would be too fun. There's none of that music that gets you driven like in other fight-flicks. This one goes gritty as it can get- not even a soundtrack by Jakes could make this any more excruciating to watch. This movie is only exploitation because it follows a 'Woman's Strength' Angle. As this dudette pointed out: the idea of a girl-fight is interesting because it's usually more than just about ego (like it is with us Penis-Bearers). Especially, in this movie, where there's plenty of emotional stake. The idea of a woman's killer instinct flushing out in full color on film brings a sense of realism and immediate depth anyone can relate to. It's evil. It's evil that you can relate to women bashing each others' face against walls because you sense it in you to do the same thing in that situation.

The Villainy in this movie is just this: Phoebe, the Sociopath, claiming that she's doing this so the hostage-takers don't kill her mom when really she just loves spilling blood. Later on she spouts something here and there about her foster-fathers raping her and her being a survivor and you begin to get a sense of where all this rage is coming from. And Josh Waller, the Director, knows just how to channel that specific shade of red right into you and make you almost feel bad for watching.

That's why you end up feeling nauseousness by the time the credits start rolling. Even after a 'you-gotta-be-shitting-me' textbook thriller ending and laughably absurd antagonists (who have over 9000 fails in the Villain department) you still have that infectious rage coursing through your veins.

This film is not the best it could be but it's not distasteful either. You can tell it was more carefully crafted than not. A cast of convincing actors/fighters, an interesting exploration in string/beat sonic experimentation by Frank Riggio and Cinematography by Dylan O'Brien helps tie 'Raze' together into an interesting next-gen project that beats at an almost-indie-film pace. Things that aren't needed are nowhere in sight and beside the first and last five minutes of the movie, the film brought more than just feminine killer-rage to the forefront of the screen, it brought the emotions that flood with it too.

Oh yeah, and Rosario Dawson cameos for a couple of minutes before she gets her ass beat crying. I didn't get that.