Saturday, September 12, 2015

Austin Bosley's Dismembering Christmas

Cody celebrates Christmas early with a new indie slasher.

Steve Goltz and Kevin Sommerfield are horror fans after my own heart, taking their love of 1980s slasher movies so far that they've even founded a production company called Slasher Studios with the intent of adding more films to their beloved sub-genre. They made their feature debut with 2013's Don't Go to the Reunion, which Goltz directed from a screenplay written by Sommerfield, and the first copies of their second film, Dismembering Christmas, were made available at this weekend's Horrorhound convention in Indiana.

Goltz and Sommerfield co-wrote the script for Dismembering Christmas, which is the first feature for director Austin Bosley, who also plays one of the characters in the film.

As in many slasher movies, the characters are a group of teenagers who have gathered together in a remote location, in this case a snowbound cabin that was the site of a murder years earlier. The cabin is now owned by the wealthy family of a teenager named Mark, whose father is allowing him to have the run of the place for Christmas break. Mark has invited his girlfriend Katie to spend Christmas there with him, and she in turn has extended invitations to her sister Claire and a bunch of friends - Lauren and her boyfriend Travis, stepsiblings Justin and Emma, and the girl Justin has a crush on, Sam.

The filmmakers do their best to build up the characters while the teens settle in and get up to typical shenanigans like strip poker and drinking 'til they puke. There's conflict between certain people and a love triangle starts to develop between Justin, Sam, and Claire, while Emma tries to get things to go in Sam's favor. All of this is thrown out the window, however, when a masked killer starts knocking off the teens one-by-one.

As their numbers dwindle, the teens have to figure out who's killing their friends and why. Is the killer someone within the group? A local? What does this have to do with the earlier murders?

Don't go into Dismembering Christmas hoping to see something that will turn the slasher sub-genre on its head, this movie is all about doing things just like they were done in the good old days. It sets the characters up and then dispatches them in entertaining, bloody ways. If you're not a slasher fan, this won't change your mind. This one is for fans who'll know exactly what they're going to get before the movie even starts.

Admirable effort was put into the character storylines and interactions, which were interesting enough that I was left wanting more. This is a very short movie, the end credits have begun before we've even reached the 67 minute point, and I felt that it could have benefited from having a slightly longer running time, spending more time with the characters and getting viewers even more invested in them.

The cast did an impressive job bringing their characters to the screen. There are a few lines of stilted dialogue, but the performers handle them well and make their group a likeable bunch.

Shot on a relatively low budget, $11,000 of which was raised through Kickstarter, Dismembering Christmas is a solid technical achievement. There were a couple glitches, which may have just been on the screener copy I watched, but overall the movie looks and sounds great, with good cinematography by Anthony Hawn and Jordan Hiller and a cool score by Dylan Curzon.

Really, my biggest issue with the movie comes in its final moments, when there's a mistake so revealing during a blood effect that I was shocked it made the final cut.

That mistake aside, Dismembering Christmas is a well made and entertaining slasher that's worth spending 71 minutes with (including end credits). Copies are available to order on DVD and limited edition Blu-ray directly from Slasher Studios and will start shipping out the first week of October.

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