September 19, 2015 by Liza Lou
Released on DVD to the UK in June The Cutting Room is a British horror film written and directed by Warren Dudley. I didn’t know much about Dudley but from what I understand this is his debut feature film and most of his background is in TV. I do like when a film is written and directed by the same person, it usually becomes a more personal piece. With that in mind, I wanted to see what The Cutting Room was all about.
The film sets a tone from the very beginning with an opening shot of a girl on a table being tortured. It’s mainly a still shot but it is drawn out throughout the credits and has impact. This is followed by a close up of a masked figure and then the film brightens to the reality of our main characters with the first act.
Three college students are tasked with their final year project of creating a documentary with behind the scenes footage. This ties in brilliantly with the fact that this film is of the found footage genre and makes the story believable. For the first act the shots are rigid to the genre, taken by camcorder with typical fade outs and the odd blur.
The characters themselves are just college kids with nothing to make them stand out as such. There’s two girls, Jess (Lydia Orange) and Charlie (Lucy-Jane Quinlan) and then Charlie’s boyfriend Raz (Parry Glasspool). Orange and Quinlan are completely unknown to me but I recognised Glasspool straight away. Here is the UK he is currently starring in soap opera Hollyoaks and I certainly saw similarities in the cheeky charm he portrayed as Raz. Unfortunately, there isn’t a huge deal of character development on any of the three. As a plot line element this doesn’t really hinder because the essence is there ;they’re three kids with a task. As the film progresses however it shows through a lack of emotional pull.
The plot follows the three on their project for which they’ve chosen to focus on cyber bullying. They start to investigate the disappearance of a local school girl and Charlie receives a plea for help by text from her. Despite the police dismissing it as a prank the three go in search of the girl. While following leads, mainly pushed forward by Raz. Another college girl goes missing. Following a tip from her mother they enter an old army barracks in pursuit.
The second acts relies on claustrophobia and the fear of the unknown to add the chills. This is surprising judging the opening scene because I was expecting a gore/torture fest but in all fairness I much prefered it this way. The masked figure pops into camera view every now and again as the three venture deeper into a maze of tunnels providing a couple of ‘jump’ scares and a suspense build up. There’s also some really interesting shot choices which make it interesting on a visual level.
This act of the film started to remind me of The Blair Witch Project but it’s easy to see why. Did it have the same impact? Probably not but Blair Witch is the pinnacle of this genre for me and I like to think, the original.
The third act starts with a twist which is refreshing and sets the film up for a whole new conclusion with new energy and urgency. It’s frantic and very dark which makes it exciting enough and the ending is literally a ‘gasp’ moment while being ambiguous enough to allow after thought. As a whole, despite its minor failings The Cutting Room is a neat enough British horror that deserves its place within its genre.