That's A Wrap


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

That's A Wrap
"It promises a lot more than it delivers." | Photo: courtesy of Frightfest

It’s a killer premise: at the wrap party for a horror film, somebody dresses up as that film’s slasher and starts picking off the guests. Principal writer Joe Knetter works strictly at the bargain bucket end of the genre but director Marcel Walz, for all that he’s been involved with some cheesy films, has generally brought enough stylistic flair to proceedings to make them worth watching anyway. He seems like a good choice for a playful contemporary piece which styles itself as giallo. Sadly, he is not at his best here, and the film really has no substance at all.

It opens with an actress sitting at her dressing room mirror late at night, after everyone else has left the set. Clad in a very Eighties white wrap-around dress, she puts on lipstick, as the genre would have us believe all women do several times an hour, and then makes her way along corridors lit in lurid shades of purple and blue, towards the exit. A chat with a sleazy night watchman informs us that she’s planning to head home, but viewers won’t really expect her to make it that far. When the moment comes it’s a little different from most of what we see in giallo, using pouring rain and pooling water to keep the focus on sound and movement. The colour red is notable by its absence.

Copy picture

Flash forward to the aforementioned wrap party, on whose red carpet everybody is introduced with name and job title, as if this were a wuxia film. There aren’t very many of them – crew members have not been invited – but there are still too many for us to get to know them in any depth, despite the best efforts of some of the actors. In lieu of giving them personalities, the script relies a lot on archetypes, so we have the sleazy, moustachioed director (Robert Donavan); his frustrated ageing actress wife with terrible dress sense, Lily (Monique Parent); camp gay leading man Troy (Brandon Patricio); tough final girl actress Amber (Gigi Gustin); and, um, Stoney (Steve J Owens), whose schtick is that he gets stoned a lot.

Also present, though with a lot less screen time, is Jamie (Adam Bucci), a rich guy with the kind of haircut boys have at 13 when they’re desperately trying to grow it out to look cool. He has bought his role in the film-within-a-film and intends to keep doing that until he becomes a star, which is an interesting premise, but he’s also an incel, with no potential for character development. Then there’s Molly (Eve Marlowe), who talks about sex a lot before wandering round naked and showering as if she were in an Eighties porn film, which horror fans will immediately identify, in this context, as a very bad idea.

Throw in a few additional people who don’t even get that level of development and it will be clear from the start that there is going to be a lot of killing here. For the most part, though, it’s done in a surprisingly low key way, with only a couple of deaths which are really likely to satisfy the gore fans who have enjoyed Walz’s work in the past. This is a problem in a genre whose selling point is the artistic rendering of such events; and even if we treat is as a common or garden slasher film, it promises a lot more than it delivers. It doesn’t quite seem to know where to focus, teasing us with a mystery which is distinctly short on twists, and failing to lay the emotional groundwork to make its revelations either believable or as grandiose as they would need to be to hit the spot otherwise.

With lines like “She’s been gone a long time. Should I go check on her?” the film never makes a creative choice when there’s an obvious one available, and its climactic speech is so drawn out and dull that you’ll be wishing you were in a position to finish off the remaining characters yourself. There was a time when nudity and bad dialogue could be enough to sell a film, but now we have the internet, and whilst it is essentially trading on kitsch humour, there's little to distinguish it from what it's spoofing.

Whilst it’s far from the worst slasher film out there, It’s A Wrap has nothing to offer that’s likely to stick in the memory. It may have sufficient nostalgic appeal to attract a few cheers at Frightfest, but nobody is likely to watch it more than once, and even then you’ll feel as if you’ve seen it all before.

Reviewed on: 22 Aug 2023
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When the cast of a recent completed horror film arrives at the studio to celebrate what it just created, it emerges that someone has dressed up as Mistress, the central slasher, and has decided to make the art real by staging personal and highly stylised kill scenes.

Director: Marcel Walz

Starring: Cerina Vincent, Monique Parent, Sarah French, Gigi Gustin

Year: 2023

Runtime: 94 minutes

Country: US


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