Director: Mitchell Altieri
Writers: Cory Knauf, Adam Weis, Mitchell Altieri, Phil Flores
Stars: Joey Kern, Luke Edwards, Bree Williamson
So many things about the title of this film can easily put most people off of wanting to see it. Snuff is reserved for the filthiest of people and I’m not talking about Babs Johnson. No one really wants to see yet another ‘beginner’ anything in horror; haven’t we suffered enough? And it’s a horror comedy to boot? Well, we all know not to judge a book by it’s cover and A Beginner’s Guide To Snuff proves that old adage to be true.
The movie bills itself as, “A pitch black comedy thriller in the vein of early Coen brothers films.” While I will admit to being pleasantly surprised by the level of humor in the movie, this overblown description can only lead to disappointment. Director Mitchell Altieri has partnered once again with writers Adam Weis and Phil Flores: formerly credited as the Butcher Brothers, these three also made The Hamiltons, The Violent Kind and The Thompsons among others.
Starring Joey Kern (Cabin Fever 2002) and Luke Edwards (The Neighbor) as brothers Dresden and Dominic Winters, these two have done the aspiring actor rounds in L.A., but they’re broke, rent is due and neither has had their big break yet. Conveniently, their overly friendly landlord Jorge (a hilarious Perry Laylon Ojeda) tells them about a contest that rewards the winner with $250,000. Dresden and Dominic simply need to make a horror movie worthy of the prize money.
Unfortunately for these two, Dresden is the brains of the operation and he decides that kidnapping an actress and making her believe that she is the star of a legitimate snuff film will be the stuff of legend. It will get them the money they need, make them famous and the actress will end up thanking them for the opportunity when she wins an Oscar for her very real performance. After holding auditions, the two decide that Jennifer (Bree Williamson) is the girl who can pull off this once in a lifetime opportunity. Of course, it wouldn’t be a comedy if all of this didn’t hilariously blow up in their faces.
Jennifer is no shrinking violet and the choices she makes while being held captive is where the film tries to turn itself into a female empowerment film. For the most part, it succeeds and Williamson gives her all, but it’s hard to avoid the fact that Jennifer suffers from the dreaded male gaze and her extra-curricular activities are another example of men writing a female character that they believe to be a feminist voice. Ultimately, it’s not worth getting into the innate failures that men run into when creating a powerful female character and I know that I just said something inflammatory, but whatevs. There are four men credited with the story and writing on this film and I simply wish that there was one female voice on there to fill in the the marginal imperfections in Jennifer’s strong female character. So, yes, I just threw shade, but overall, I really appreciated what the filmmakers were going for with this movie and few actresses would have been able to pull this off without coming off as irritating and unrealistic.
It cannot be unsaid that Joey Kern is absolutely hilarious. He was the most annoying character in Cabin Fever and for a lot of us, that’s how he remained in our memories. All is forgiven after this performance. There are tons of quotes for movie buffs to recognize and it’s obvious that everyone involved had a great time making this film. The three leads are great fun, have great chemistry with one another and A Beginner’s Guide to Snuff proves to be a slice of wicked fun.
Lisa Fremont | Twitter: @lcfremont