Wednesday, March 3, 2010

This isn't a Farmer's Daughter Joke

Silent Bloodnight (2005)
Starring: Vanessa Vee, Robert Cleaner, Alexander E. Fennon and Mike Vega
Directors: Stefan Peczelt and Elmar Weihsmann
Rating: Five of Ten Stars

A farmer and his son (Cleaner and Fennon) go on a killing spree in a small Austrian town to avenge the rape and murder of the farmer's daughter, and to eliminate any potential witnesses to the rape and their subsequent killings. And then to get rid of witnesses to the killings of the witnesses. When sex-pot local access channel TV reporter Sabrina (Vee) starts to investigate the string of murders, she becomes a target as well.

From its title through the final scene, "Silent Bloodnight" is a stupifying mess. The plot makes absoultely no sense, the reasons for the many killings are nonsensical (even for a pair who must have been psychopathic before the slaying of their daughter/sister), questions are raised in the course of the movie and never answered, and the film SHOULD have been over about thirty minutes in, if the local Chief of Police (Vega) wasn't so incompetent that it broke my disbelief's suspension. (I want to know where to send the repair bill.)

The film also has the further problem that its cast is made up of Austrian actors performing in English. Their Engilsh is decent enough, but I can imagine that those who didn't grow up around a variety of accents may occasionally have trouble understanding what is being said at times. I also think that the fact the film was shot in English instead of German may have harmed some of the acting in it. What we have here is actually a little above par for a low-budget slasher film these days (where anyone with a Camcorder, some red dye, and a few friends with enthusiasm and spare time on their hands thinks they can make a movie), but I can't help but wonder if Vee might not have been better in a couple of the scenes if she hadn't been so obviously focused on enunciation of English phrases that might otherwise be slurred and incomprehensible under her Austrian accent. (Arnold Schwarzenegger makes it seem a lot easier than it is.)

This movie would really have benefited from a few more thousand dollars worth of budget, and a decent group of British voice actors. In fact, this is ready-made to be redubbed, as several scenes have been carefully staged to avoid any signs in German--we don't even see the side of the police car that appears a few times--and the actors are listed in the credits with Anglicized names.

With all that said, the movie still has a number of good qualities. First, lovers of the slasher-genre will enjoy a number of parallels to the early "Friday the 13th" movies, and they should also appreciate the fact that this is an attempt to make a serious slasher film. Second, any horror fan will able able to appreciate the decent camerawork throughout--I wish the entire film had been as spooky as the opening scenes of the barefoot young woman in a white dress doing ballet steps down a country, but what we get is decent enough. Third, the gore effects are expertly done (except for the spurting severed neck we see a couple of times... they should have made the shoulders look a little less plastic). Fourth, Sabrina does her newscasts in a bikini, and she and the most of the other girls in the film are usually wearing tight or skimpy outfits, just like old time slasher-flicks! The film also features a very high degree of nudity and sex. Fifth--a personal favorite of mine--the film features a van that gets turned into a mobile gas chamber!

"Silent Bloodnight" was a film that I had a little harder time than usual assigning a rating to. The movie has some pretty glaring flaws (the weak script that relies to a large extent on Stupid Character Syndrome being the biggest), but there was also a fair degree of craftsmanship and creative energy evident throughout. More importantly, the film kept me entertained, even while rolling my eyes at the lameness of Mike Vega's character, and the entertainment value always is an important factor in how highly I rate a movie. In the final analysis, this film ends up at the low end of average with a rating of Five.

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