It’s easy to let the heart sink when you sit in front of yet another visibly micro-budget found footage horror film. There are still sparks of life in the genre, but even legitimate horror pros like Adam Green can fail to give it a freshness injection with the likes of Digging Up the Marrow.
Writer and director Warren Dudley’s The Cutting Room starts off disconcertingly cheap and generic looking as well, bringing to mind comparisons with last year’s utterly dismal Hungerford.
The set up is disappointingly generic as well, following a group of film studies students making a documentary which gives reason for the found footage format. However, once we’re over these up front issues and begin to accept the film for what it is, it’s actually pretty captivating, hooking us in and becoming more and more gripping. The central mystery that the documentary making students are pursuing is enjoyable and I found myself increasingly intrigued as it progressed. Their investigation is believable but never strays so close to reality that it becomes bland. The clues to the solution are well woven into the fabric of the story, with enough red herrings to put us off and nothing too honkingly obvious.
As the film steps up a gear into it’s final act it taps into primal childhood fears. The kind of very real nerve jangling that accompanied creeping around disused buildings you shouldn’t have been near and the solid dread that some psycho was living there. Yes, it’s another finale of running and screaming around badly lit tunnels away from a masked man, but it’s done very well. The killer is kept totally ambiguous and it works wonders, sending a real chill down neck. The Cutting Room doesn’t reinvent the wheel and if you were put off found footage long ago, it won’t turn you. But what it does do is get the conventions spot on.
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