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STUDIO: Wild Eye Releasing
RUNNING TIME: 75 minutes
• Q&A with director
Emo-goth douchebag kills other emo-goth douchebags. Nobody notices or cares.
Starring Flambeaux, Erica Giovinazzo, Mistress Julya and Eve Blackwater
Written and directed by JJ Connelly
A heretical priest cuts a deal with Satan to claim 100,000 souls to rule over in his own personal hell. He comes back for a weekend getaway at a NYC Goth Club and kills everyone in boring, unimaginative ways before skipping back to the underworld to torment said NYC Goth Clubbers. Oh, there’s also some girl who doesn’t get killed because she’s a virgin. It’s more or less a true story, save for the virgin part, those don’t exist in New York. (Oh god, how I have looked…)
I am sure that somewhere in the story of ‘GothKill’ there is a commentary on the underground goth world, the tendency for people to be sheep and the worship of evil by posers and shucksters, and how those people could never be evil themselves. Unfortunately, whatever statement the film (a loose term at best) is trying to make gets lost beneath terrible, god awful production values, bad acting, a wretched story that makes little sense, comedy that falls flat and horror that is neither scary, gory or good. I’ll say it right now: fuck this movie.
Remember those films you made in high school? They weren’t anywhere close to good but it was okay, because your mom would say they’re fantastic and they weren’t for wide distribution; they were just a way for you and your friends to dick around for an afternoon, right? Well, imagine if one of those movies got released and went to festivals and stuff? That this movie has been seen by more than just the creators’ parents is the only thing that separates it from the crap. Seriously, ‘Transformers 2’ looks like ‘Transformers’ when held up to this.
The birthing of ‘GothKill’ I’m sure went something like this: “Hey, I like movies, that Rob Zombie Halloween was fucking awesome! Hey, I also have a lot of goth friends in New York’s underground scene. Waitaminute…oh yeah, I just got a cool idea.” He stayed up all night, mostly jerking off, but finishing the script in about two hours right before heading to Denny’s, then found some friend with a camera and had the whole thing in the can by the end of the week. It’s a movie made by people who know nothing of the technical aspects of movie-making. Shots are badly framed, there is no pacing to the edit and the sound is garbled for most of the short running, but long-feeling, length.
The film is populated with all of those kids in college that were at midnight screenings of Rocky Horror. Sure, they seemed awesome at the time, but getting them to exist outside of their element is just painful. Flambeaux (yes, one name, like Madonna) at least has some fun with the role of Nick Dread, the damned priest who’s collected the high score of murderdom. He plays Dread with the kind of amorality you’d imagine; he can’t be killed, he’s been to hell, so why not have some fun when you’re on earth? He does, and the film suffers whenever he is off-screen, which sadly is too often. When the film focuses on the members of New York’s Scorpion Club, a bunch of “fucking posers”, it’s terrible and when it focuses on Annie, our feisty heroine, it’s bearable. Erica Giovinazzo is a convincing enough actress; playing both blissfully ignorant virgin and possessed-demon psychopath with equal parts believability and flair, but her character goes nowhere. Nobody goes anywhere, except to hell, of course and we actually feel bad for them because they’ve been judged by a terrible human being. It’s not like these people, who do get a little involved with the goth culture, did anything wrong. I mean, they didn’t insult a gypsy or anything.
The recent discussions on the messageboards about horror fans brought up a good point: horror fans will watch a lot of crap for a good moment. There are none here. No impressive kill to warrant a rewatch. No pithy line that sticks. The horror is ineffective and the comedy is at best unintentional, and at worst, painfully bad. With the exception of one hackneyed ‘haven’t I seen this before?’ kill, the deaths are boring and the effects less than believable. The lines are doubly so. The movie wants to be more clever than it is, but it becomes just a chore; the massacre scene was the best part because hey, at least people weren’t saying anything outside of ‘aaah’ and ‘oh no!’
Maybe I’m being a bit too hard on the film. It’s super low budget and done with love in its heart, but no. No, no, I refuse. It’s neither campy enough to be good (though Flambeaux almost turns it around with his depravity and accent) and too bad to be tongue in cheek. We all made a lot of movies in grade school and in college that aren’t up to even subpar standards of script and technical achievement, but at least we’ve had the good sense to keep those films away from public eyes. In the end, ‘GothKill’ is a slog to get through (despite being only 75 minutes); it’s like running a marathon but the only reward you get when you finish is a punch in the face and a kick down the stairs.
The look is beyond godawful. I’m not saying every digital movie has to look like it was done by Michael Mann, but a little framing never hurt anyone, nor did scene to scene continuity. The transfer is poor and flat, though I imagine it was shot both poorly and flatly, and the sound is clearly done from a microphone attached to the camera and hardly mixed. The extras include a commentary and a Q&A from director and the cast at the NYC showing, trailers and commentary. It is clear they had fun making this and yeah, it looks like it was a great time (demons and naked women? Sign me up for that!) but sorry, enthusiasm means nothing without quality output.