A killer slowly wiping out the cast of a horror movie at the wrap party sounds like a pretty fun time for thriller slasher fans. That’s A Wrap never manages to find the right cues to make this gruesome premise work with much of the material better suited for the cutting room floor.
Mason Maestro (Robert Donavan) has put the finishing touches on his teaser trailer for ‘That’s A Wrap,’ his latest slasher film and throws a party to celebrate with his cast.
It’s not a big cast, but Mason’s leading lady, Harper (Sarah French, Space Wars: Quest for Deepstar), the naive Lana (Sarah Polednak), the weed-loving Stoney (Steve J. Owens), the brand-obsessed Amber (Gigi Gustin) and his actress wife, Lily (Monique Parent, Vigilante Diaries) are all on hand.
For a wrap party, it’s pretty low key with most of the decorations just some balloons and leftovers from the shoot. Each room has a mannequin decked out like Mistress, the blonde wig, stocking mask, red leather jacket clad killer from the film.
After some boring small talk, the cast starts to disperse around the set for various staged reasons like getting a drink spilled on a dress, broodingly thinking about their careers or just finding quiet spots for random hookups. Naturally, this doesn’t tend to go well for them as they have their final encounter with Mistress.
A weird aspect of the film is how the characters are in the horror world environment. The film’s framework invites a Scream-like mindset from the characters who run the gamut of big horror buffs and genre novices who think they know just enough important slasher elements to avoid being killed.
That could have led to the characters avoiding some of the typical horror death scenarios — how about avoiding the overly darkened room or doing everything alone? — forcing the killer to be smarter and more creative. Instead, they non-ironically fall into the same pitfalls as characters in zombie movies who act like they’ve never seen a zombie movie or show before cluelessly waiting to get killed.
Also, with this kind of premise, the film would probably benefit more from a chatty taunting killer with a voice distortion mouthpiece to avoid spoiling their identity.
Sure, some of the cast is executed with some flair, but the kills lack that unbelievably spectacle to make them memorable.
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Director Marcel Walz opts for these extended character spotlight moments in an attempt to develop the cannon fodder right before they get killed. The pattern becomes too predictable and the scenes rarely finding a creative spark. It doesn’t help that too many of the performances are stilted and wooden. French, Parent and Gustin are solid providing some reliable performances throughout.
Even a mediocre horror film can be somewhat salvaged if the death scenes are passable. Walz tends to make the killings overly theatrical with slow-motion, dizzying lights and melodramatic music. Instead of these wild death spectacles Walz stages the murders like gory mini operas from a community theater.
Walz intends to make a giallo film, which Lana helpfully explains for those unfamiliar with the 60s horror subset that focuses on psychological horror and sexploitation.
There is one death scene that hits that appropriate level of absurdity. Everything about the scene is amazingly preposterous and feels like the direction the film needed to lean in all along. It’s wince-inducing and unsettling even before the knife gets pulled out yet going over the top in this manner is the film’s ideal lane.
And the cast’s lack of urgency when confronted by someone dressed up like the film’s maniac seems unlikely. If nothing else it’d probably make more sense for them to just head to another room where this bizarrely dressed individual is just casually clocking their every move.
This speaks to another problem with the film. No one finds a dead body. Either the killer is just the savviest cleaner around or the cast just conveniently decides to stop interacting with each other when they head off to other parts of the set.
Screenwriters Joe Knetter and Robert L. Lucas save the worst scene for last with the big killer reveal complete with an overindulgent monologue and twist that wears out its welcome. The big reveal was begging for a fun, unpredictable twist not one that’s far too telegraphed for anyone who loved 90s horror films.
Rating: 4 out of 10
Photo Credit: Quiver Distribution