Cut Shoot Kill is a mediocre slasher with a pretty good ending. That mediocrity stems from a dull script with unimaginative kills, uneven acting, and plot points you can see from a theater away. Conceptually it’s novel, but the execution misses the mark far too often. It’s a shame because Cut Shoot Kill feels like an ode to a genre that writer/director Michael Walker clearly admires. There’s a good idea here to be sure, but it’ll take you a thousand paper cuts to get there.
Cut Shoot Kill is about Serena Brooks, a New York Actress who finds herself casts in her very first horror film. A slasher to be exact. Serena meets the production team who she finds out are childhood hillbillies that specialize in making these types of gritty, realistic slasher films. Have I mentioned yet that Cut Shoot Kill is a slasher? Because it is. A slasher film about the making of a slasher creates a meta-narrative that I found to be pretty interesting. If you’re thinking Scream 2, then you’re not far off but to Cut Shoot Kill’s credit, this feels a bit more like inside baseball, so I dug that. It’s unfortunate then that the film doesn’t take this meta-narrative far enough. We get a cool concept but it never manages to say anything truly interesting or even all that unique.
On the surface, we have all the makings of a typical slasher film. We get a collection of personalities ranging from ‘must die’ to ‘please die’, we get a lovable fool that momentarily saves the day, and most importantly a final girl in Serena. Only this time, she doesn’t really get what it means to be a final girl. And again we’re back to Cut Shoot Kill’s strength. Addressing the genre but not necessarily the characters. After all, the characters are bland and are prone to stabbings. It’s unfortunate that we’re too busy stabbing people to get back to these moments. Cut Shoot Kill meanders through uninspiring murders for the majority of its runtime. Stopping briefly every so often to telegraph its plot points. I really do wish things got more exciting than that but they sadly don’t. This isn’t helped by the uneven acting on display. There are exchanges between characters that felt like they could have been first runs at a script, but other times we get brief moments between characters that I found enduring in some odd ways. Alexandra Socha as Serena doesn’t seem to vibe with everyone on screen but when she does it really shows. Phil Burke who plays Blake Stone is also pretty good at times, especially in scenes with Socha. Also, he gets the best line in the film. You’ll know it when you hear it.
A major gripe I have with Cut Shoot Kill are the plot holes. The plot holes are abundant. There’s an attempt, later on, to explain some stuff away but it’s definitely not enough. If you’ve read a review of mine before, you know I like a fair bit of logic in my stories and Cut Shoot Kill falls short with basic stuff like ‘how do all these people go missing with no one noticing?’ Editing is another aspect that reared its head on a few occasions. I’m talking some continuity issues that make things feel a bit sloppy. Otherwise on a technical level Cut Shoot Kill is nicely shot but those hiccups did bother me.
This brings me to what I liked about Cut Shoot Kill. It’s ending. I won’t spoil anything (even though I really want to) so I’ll talk around it as vaguely as I can. But I think this is important to know when considering whether to watch this movie or not. So there’s a really interesting decision that’s made at the end that sort of turns the whole story on its head. It’s not necessarily a twist because a lot of the plot is predictable as… well as a slasher, but this decision is unique and much appreciated. Put it this way, if this happened in any other slasher you ever saw it would fundamentally change what that movie was all about. It’s that important of a decision. So yeah it’s a pretty cool ending. But is it worth an hour and a half? I could just as easily tell you now to save you the time. I’d save you from predictable plot points, plot holes, and downright boring violence but I won’t. In the end, your enjoyment of Cut Shoot Kill will depend entirely on your patience and your love of slashers. As I said, a mediocre slasher with a good ending. Hey, they can’t all be classics like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. By the way, Rest in peace Tobe Hooper.
Cut Shoot Kill is available on VOD.