Switchblade Romance (2003)

switchblade romance

Though it descends into total implausibility, ‘Switchblade Romance’ is a gripping, visceral horror film that manages to keep one step ahead of the viewer.

‘Switchblade Romance’ is a violent, cruel horror film that adopts the conventions from slasher films such as ‘Halloween’ and adds a psychological twist. Without giving anything away, I would politely say the twist can only be interpreted and explained in somewhat woolly terms; I could also say that it’s completely stupid. However, given that ‘Switchblade Romance’ is merely exploitation cinema, it didn’t particularly bother me.

I felt the film, though predominantly clichéd, did manage to avoid becoming tired, its suspense was taut and relatively unpredictable. However, it only just managed it, it was a close call, those familiar with the slasher films of the 70s and 80s may feel ‘Switchblade Romance’ is just a bundle of rehashed themes. The film departs from its slasher relatives in respect to cruelty and realism; it has a gritty, unpleasant quality that is similar to modern horror films like ‘Wolf Creek’, the grisly Australian affair that appeared in 2005.

Much like ‘Wolf Creek’, after it had finished I found myself asking ‘Why? What’s the point?’ These overly sadistic, one track films leave me feeling rather hollow; they’re a dose of visceral thrills so relentlessly bleak and potent that they leave me questioning their status as ‘entertainment’. I wondered why someone would want to make such one- dimensionally cruel films. The only purpose I could think of was how both films place the viewer in a ‘What would you do if you were being stalked by a murderer?’ situation, which indeed makes them a thoroughly engrossing, if life-sapping ordeal to watch.

Ultimately, ‘Switchblade Romance’ is a straight-forward endurance test that provides an ample amount of tension and gore, but its overreaching, illogical ending and general vapidity may leave you feeling slightly hollow by the end credits.

65%

Thirteen (2003)

thirteen

‘Thirteen’ will have you wanting to commit acts of extreme violence.

This film evokes a veritable plethora of negative emotion; I hated almost everything that occurred, but I didn’t hate the film. This film explores the anguish caused by the immaturity of adolescence: the competition, the bullying, the need for conformity. Its characters are like those found in Larry Clark films, however ‘Thirteen’ has none of the sleazy, gratuitous perversion that Clark relishes. This film explores all the vices, it depicts the worst of impressionable adolescence, but the camera never lingers luridly.

The story is familiar, one that everyone can relate to. It’s about Tracy (Evan Rachel Wood), a painfully impressionable teen who desperately wants to fit in with the ‘cool’ crowd, who ironically are anything but. The ‘cool’ kids are repugnantly crass – truly revolting people.  Tracy unfortunately thinks otherwise, becoming best friends with the utterly amoral prize bitch Evie (Nikki Reed). Her influence upon Tracy is immediate, and their activities together soon escalate; Tracy quickly becomes a scheming, stupid and cruel too. Her descent is exasperating to watch, partly through how powerless Tracy’s suffering mother (Holly Hunter) is.

The performances are remarkably natural, they really are. It will never age in this respect, peak realism is shown here.  Hunter and Wood have scenes of intense emotion, the kind of emotion so desperately strong that it transcends everything. The excitable exchanges between Wood and Reed are also commendable for their credibility.

The film could be a eye-opener for teens that are experiencing similar situations. The film would assure them that Tracy isn’t radical in any way, it would highlight that she’s just in the midst of a predictable, cringe-worthy cycle that has been experienced by millions of all generations.

‘Thirteen’ will have you wanting to commit acts of extreme violence. If you can restrain your temperament throughout the many scenes of vast obnoxiousness, gross injustice and the scores of vulgar, idiotic characters – I salute you. All of this, however, is a testament to the power of the film.  It’s an unpleasant watch, but the provocation it causes is interesting, I’ve certainly written this review faster than usual.

73%