series 7: the contenders
to me, low-budget film making is the best when the filmmakers find a way to use the lack of financial resources to their benefit instead of overreaching their grasp. such is the case with the blair witch project, [rec], and now, series 7: the contenders. in the near future,citizens are chosen randomly by social security number to participate in a reality show, whether they wish to or not. the players in the game are forced to hunt down and kill each other by any means possible; the winner being the last man or woman standing. the story here is similar to what you’ve seen before in films like the running man, battle royale or the more recent death race, but the difference is that series 7 isn’t trying to be an action film. the cheesy graphics, staged monologues, and the rushing, energetic camera crews chasing after each of the contestants scream “trashy, low-budget reality show.” in whatever future this is, series 7 is not the american idol of its day — it’s likely more akin to cheaters or rock of love. this works to the film’s advantage, as this style breaks down the wall between film and audience and makes what you’re watching seem ‘real.’ which is probably why we love reality tv in the first place. the camera follows characters in their private moments, sometimes peaking through doors and catching the contestants unaware, letting us feel we know these people far better than you could a fictional hero in some action film. of course, these are fictional characters as well — but part of the reason this format works is because that shaky, video quality camera footage makes you feel like what you’re watching is ‘reality.’ in this way, the film owes a lot more to stephen king’s the long walk than battle royale, despite the obvious plot similarities to the latter. series 7 could have probably used a little more polishing, but overall it’s a clever story told in a very compelling way and well worth checking out.
i have sorted through hundreds, if not thousands, of crappy, unwatchable micro-budget horror films over the years hoping to find those elusive pieces of genius film making i know are out there. my latest roughage to comb through looking for shiny rocks has been netflix’s streaming service since they plugged it into my xbox. you have no idea how many wretched horror films are available there for you to watch, 24/7. of the dozens i’ve seen so far, only one noteworthy film has risen out of the muck — and that film is actress apocalypse. i can’t imagine the budget of this film being more than what i have in my wallet right now, but this is the best example i’ve seen of how much you can really do with a camera, lots of talent and little else. the plot is remarkably simple and intriguing. david b. lincoln the 3rd is a struggling filmmaker who wants to create his first masterpiece, but unfortunately the only people he can get to help him are his brother vance and a guy who insists on being called “the golden terror.” david’s film, titled clearwater canyon, would be epic — if only he could complete it. for example, it features such classic lines as the following, spoken by a trapped heroine pondering her fate.
As I sit here, pondering my predicament on why the army men haven’t gotten here to save me yet… The fear, that the big, fat, ugly mullet Indian is on his way here to kill me.
while david has only the best intentions at heart despite a stunning lack of talent and little grasp of reality, vance has only one goal in mind — to use the auditions of the actresses for his brother’s project as a way to create his own snuff films. it all plays out as a mockumentary, supposedly the behind-the-scenes making-of footage of david’s doomed film. the film fluctuates seamlessly between being a disturbing serial killer horror film, an over-the-top exploitation flick, and a laugh-out-loud comedy. acting is usually where micro-budget films suffer the most, but the three primary characters (david, vance, and golden terror) are like the marx brothers of low-budget horror production, each far better crafted and acted than most comedic characters found in studio products. based on the director’s own history working on micro-budget productions, i imagine much of the situational humor comes from personal experience. i cannot recommend this film enough, particularly for anyone with any interest in low-budget film production. but if you really need more convincing, i suppose i could mention the extraordinary amount of quality nudity on display. not that anyone would make their decision based such a thing, but it has a lot. i mean… a lot.
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