Director: Warren Dudley Starring: Parry Glasspool, Lucy-Jane Quinlan & Lydia Orange Synopsis: College students Raz, Charlie and Jess are about to start work on their end of year media studies project, unaware of a malevolent force lurking deep below their sleepy town Rating: 15 Run time: 74 minutes Release date: 1 June (UK)
The found footage sub-genre of horror films has been done to death by now. The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity breathed fresh life into things, but it soon became oversaturated and stale while horror moved forward and seemingly left the found footage gimmick behind. Indeed, The Cutting Room is a found footage film, but director Warren Dudley has managed to use the tricks of the genre to his advantage, while giving us a valid reason to accept it here.
Students Raz, Charlie and Jess are assigned a final project for their media studies course by tutor Mr. Kallis. The assignment is to investigate a case of cyber bullying while documenting the whole thing using their camcorders. The case seems to go nowhere at first, with our three students reaching one dead end after another. That is until they come across the ex-boyfriend of a recently missing girl, whose disappearance has little to no explanation.
After a disturbing opening sequence, The Cutting Room shows little in the form of gore and thankfully distances itself from the use of jump scares. Instead it uses its time to allow the audience to build a fondness towards its three main characters, making their plight that more distressing. This gives the audience chance to learn more about the characters, meaning you might actually give a shit if they die.
While The Cutting Room is patient in its build up, it may seem to some that it is light on scares, but it manages to build tension in anticipation of the films claustrophobic finale. This again, gives some sort of meaning to the fate that belies the three college students. If the first two thirds of the film don’t satisfy your needs, then hopefully the final third will. And director Warren Dudley’s use of the Newhaven Fort adds a real sense of dread to proceedings, ensuring the audience feels just as lost as the films leads.
However, not everything sticks here. Despite the films generally good levels of suspense and dependable acting, The Cutting Room falls into a few familiar traps. The plot is a little too predictable at times, and anyone who has a long standing relationship with horror films may see everything coming, with the ending likely to be spotted early on. As with the majority of horror films, the characters make some incredibly stupid decisions, but this is to be accepted as par for the course.
The Cutting Room may well therefore split audiences. If you can take the slow pace and patient development, then you may be rewarded with a chilling tale of broken trust and why it’s never wise to break into an abandoned army barracks. On the other hand, you might not find enough to like in a horror film short on gore with too many predictable moments.
In summary: The Cutting Room is a suspenseful British horror film that makes good use of its surroundings, allowing the audience to be scared by what may be there rather than what is there.