Studio: Archstone Distribution
Director: Martin Owen
Writer: Martin Owen, Abigail Wright, Elizabeth Morris, Tim Burke
Producer: Shree Patel, Jonathan Willis, Abigail Wright, Martin Owen, Daniel Sollinger, Jeffrey Wright
Stars: Mischa Barton, Eric Roberts, Dave Bautista, Drake Bell, Brooke Hogan, Abigail Wright, Elizabeth Morris, Korrina Rico, Tori Black, Frank Collison, Marisa Lauren, Danny Trejo
With the public watching online, Hollywood is thrown into chaos as a masked slasher abducts and tortures reality TV celebrities.
When Hollywood’s most obnoxious and talentless reality TV stars begin disappearing only to resurface tortured and bloodied, the white-suited masked maniac responsible for the carnage ends up hailed as a pseudo-celebrity himself. While dog-toting socialites and coke-snorting producers cock an eyebrow at shadows wondering if they might be next, a sadistically smirking home audience overfed on TMZ tabloid trash eagerly awaits the latest viral video of the slasher’s freshest famous-for-being-famous victim.
Had “L.A. Slasher” released in the year 2010 when it was initially conceived, or even in 2012 when principal photography took place, it might have stood a better chance of arriving at a time when reality TV culture was still somewhat ripe for a scathing sendup wrapped inside a dark horror-comedy. Instead, the film debuts in 2015, when shows like “American Idol,” “The Simple Life,” “The Hills”, and countless others have already been cancelled or gone off the air, and the public consciousness has moved on to other sneer-worthy targets of manufactured disdain. That leaves “L.A. Slasher” in the lurch as a too little, too late satire futilely farming dirt that has long since been salted, dried, and thrown to the wind.
The website where the slasher maintains his blog and documents crimes for adoring followers takes stale shots at Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber. When a reporter doing a man on the street segment polls the public regarding who they would like to see next on the slasher’s list, obvious names are mentioned like the Kardashians and Snooki. Snooki? When was the last time a “Jersey Shore” personality was relevant in popular culture?
The only comedic irony in “L.A. Slasher” is that it is just as vapid as the targets in its crosshairs. Characters don’t even have names. Instead, they are referred to by the stereotype they are meant to embody, e.g. The Actress, The Heiress, The Popstar, etc. Struggling for this conceit to make sense, dialogue forcibly works around everyone’s inability to call anyone by name, such as newscasts ridiculously referencing only a “Reality Star” being attacked.
Even as archetypes, no one has a distinguishable personality. Every identity is interchangeable as nearly all are referenced as having appeared on some television program. Other than an introductory scene set in a gentleman’s club, what makes The Stripper uniquely an exotic dancer? What makes The Socialite a socialite other than an onscreen graphic proclaiming it so?
“L.A. Slasher” employs schizophrenic style, too. Editing randomly jump cuts, freezes the frame, splits into multiple screens, or does whatever it feels like in the moment. A softly sung ballad plays confusingly underneath a scene of the slasher chasing a fleeing captive without discernible rhyme or reason.
Cinematography becomes carried away with unmotivated colored lights, such as purposelessly washing a montage of Mischa Barton swimming underwater in green, then red, then purple, then blue. Why? Who knows, but it happens again when The Stripper dances solo while bathed in green light, then red, then purple, etc. Newscast segments also have a habit of going in and out of focus, like the camera operator is looking to occupy idle hands, even though interview subjects are standing still and the lens can simply stay where it is.
On all fronts of narrative storytelling and visual creativity, “L.A. Slasher” doesn’t know what it is doing. Its direction is aimless. What it chooses to include is senseless. For instance, Dave Bautista and Danny Trejo feature in a secondary storyline whose initial purpose is to deal cocaine to the seventh-billed character before resurfacing for another easily excisable scene near the end. Bautista and Trejo have a few brief scenes interspersed in between, but they are only of interest if you care to hear them puzzle pointlessly over the ingredients in a Twinkie.
The remainder of the movie’s attempts at humor appears born out of mean-spirited contempt for celebrity status rather than good-natured or clever caricature. The phrase “stupid b*tch” is used repeatedly to belittle victims and in such hateful tones that any semblance of well-meaning sarcasm or playful pastiche evaporates. Giving the L.A. Slasher a nasally cartoon villain voice, provided by Andy Dick, only makes his barely-there character additionally annoying instead of amusing.
Not only is its empty message outdated and untimely, “L.A. Slasher” is unfunny as a comedy and not frightening as a horror film. For a more thoughtful, more entertaining, and better-produced parody of contemporary celebrity, consider Bobcat Goldthwait’s crime-comedy “God Bless America” instead.
Review Score: 30