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Monday, June 26, 2017

A BEGINNER'S GUIDE TO SNUFF -- Movie Review by Porfle

A BEGINNER'S GUIDE TO SNUFF (2016) is like comedy-revenge porn for all the poor, hapless victims--especially the pretty girls--who were snuffed in torture porn flicks over the years.  The catch: the killers are just pretending this time, but the victim doesn't know that.  And when she gets away...

The pretend-killers are aspiring (and perspiring) actors Dresden and Dominic, brothers from the sticks who just can't catch a break in Hollywood.  In desperation, the less stable one, Dresden (Joey Kern, SUPER TROOPERS, ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN ARE UNDEAD), hatches a plan in which they hold a fake casting call, kidnap the most promising actress in the bunch, and film a fake snuff film that will (in Dresden's clouded mind) win first prize in a film contest and make them famous.

All they have to do, he figures, is to take it to the brink and then reveal that it's all fake to the actress, who will then thank them for the opportunity for fame.  Weak-willed brother Dominic (Luke Edwards, MOTHER'S BOYS, AMERICAN PIE 2) protests at first but eventually agrees, and all goes according to plan...until Dresden starts to take it all a little too seriously, and before Dominic knows it, he--and their unwilling actress--are caught up in an honest-to-goodness real snuff film.

Naturally, this would be horrible if we took it seriously for a second, but it's practically a live-action cartoon, so that's not really a problem.  (Not at first, anyway.)  There are some very amusing setpieces such as the actress audition montage ("Could you do that again, only this time do it as though you were a good actress?")

Naturally, the last one is THE one, and is she ever--Jennifer (Bree Williamson, "One Life to Live", "General Hospital") is the perfect gorgeous, self-confident, outgoing babe to help elevate these guys' piece-of-crap film project into something at least marginally watchable.  BEGINNER'S GUIDE itself isn't a laugh riot, but it doesn't really try to be. It's just a consistently smart and amusing spoof that's sharply-done and fun to watch.

But that's the first half.  The thing is, once they actually kidnap Jennifer and their whole plan is put into motion, things start to get real.  Maybe even too real to be funny, depending on your tolerance level.

It's hard to maintain a premise like this as a funny ha-ha joke when we're seeing a couple of psychotic-acting guys (and let's face it, Dresden really is a psycho, while Dominic's insipid acquiescence to him is bad enough in itself) and a terrified girl whom we've learned to like. 

And yet, as the film gets more violent, I begin to realize that director Mitchell Altieri is messing with me and my expectations big-time.  Is it a harmless gore-movie spoof?  Is it a funny (but in a really sick way) torture porn flick?  Does it really even know what it is?  My final answer: all of the above.

After the initial "Dresden goes too far" sequence, the movie doesn't really lighten up again until Jennifer gets away (I'm only revealing what the trailer already shows, so no spoiler here) and turns the tables on her captors in a big, bloody way.  Which, by this time, is uncomfortable in a traditional torture-porn kind of way but with an off-kilter premise that keeps twisting one way and then the other.

Technically, it's a mix of conventional photography and "found footage" style which works pretty well most of the time.  Performances are outstanding, totally manic and intense, with Bree Williamson a very dynamic Jennifer and Joey Kern giving us a Dresden who grows more despicably unhinged and narcissistic by the minute. 

A BEGINNER'S GUIDE TO SNUFF wants to keep us off-balance, uncomfortable, and wondering what the hell we're watching, and in that respect, it succeeds.  I think gorehounds and torture porn aficionados will especially enjoy it, as well as those who prefer their humor dark and demented.  I had mixed feelings at the end, but was glad I watched it because it's definitely a trip. 

Tech Specs

Runtime: 87mins
Format: 1:78 HD
Sound: Dolby SR
Country: USA
Language: English
Genre: Horror

Release Date: June 23, 2017 (Theatrical, Los Angeles) & July 11th, 2017 (VOD, DVD)

The film’s official trailer

More details on the film are available at Indican Pictures:

Read our original coverage


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