Okay, okay! This may not be the fourth consecutive week, but it’s not as though anyone is actually paying attention to this, right? So with that semi excuse out of the way, make a room for next….
The Great American Snuff Film isn’t exactly what you would call a family-friendly film. Unless your family’s into killers who want to make a movie out of their torture victims, in which case this puppy’s great for mom, dad, the kids, the grandfolks–all the sick people you surround yourself with. The music takes a page out of John Carpenter. The visuals take their cues from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Essentially, this is a movie made by a director who knows his budget, knows his limitations, and puts them both to fantastic use. No, this won’t be winning any awards anytime soon, but it will leave you feeling little bit queasy–and that’s reward enough.
By the end of The Great American Snuff Film, I had to look it up on the Google because it states more than once that it’s based on a true story. It’s not. In fact, writer-director Sean Tretta claims to not even have interest in snuff films or serial killers for that matter. One school of thought on any creative endeavor is that you must immerse yourself and be really interested in your subject–must learn from the masters and all that. While that does work, it can also get in the way. Sometimes fresh ideas come from outside the box, not just those who have mastered its contours. For my money, the new thing that happens here–the outside of the box thing–doesn’t happen until the final words on the screen before the credits roll. In fact, it was these words that made me look it up to see if it was based on a true story in the first place, because if a true story, these words make Tretta seem like one of the darkest, most heinous people on the outskirts of Tinseltown. I won’t spoil it for you, you’ll just have to watch.
Or not. After all, this is torture porn right? It’s not for everyone. It’s just executed extremely well. The diary entries of the mad filmmaker and their narration are creepy enough that if you took away the flick and just had that actor reading those words in that way… you’d believe it was real. In that sense, this being a movie is what hampers the realism because we’re promised real snuff film footage at the end from real police files. That’s a red flag that we’re being put on, but when you actually see the footage, it looks as phony as anything else. But if we had just heard the words in that soulless voice describing the footage… unfortunately, film is a show-don’t-tell medium. Thankfully, the film doesn’t live or die by that moment. And again, for my money, it retrieves itself with Sean Tretta’s final statement to the extent that I bothered to look it up to make sure it wasn’t a real case.
Now I’ve got the truth and I don’t need to sleep with the light on.