“Bitchy ballerinas, being bitches.”
Well, I will say this. If you start your film with a ballet class being interrupted by a former student, who rushes in – topless, for no readily apparent reason – and sprays the class with fire from her Uzi: you have my attention. Unfortunately, this early goodwill is utterly wasted, frittered away in a number of ways over the next 90 minutes that would be spectacularly impressive, if that were the aim of the film-makers. However, it appears their true intention was along the lines of, “Let’s do a micro-budget version of Black Swan, but one based on our obsessive watching of Suspiria, starring a cast of interchangeable Barbies rounded up from the strip-club nearest to the local community college.” Actually, that sounds rather more entertaining than this.
There are two intertwined threads here. One, is the aftermath of the shooting, carried out by mad dancer Nisa (Raye), which injured the school’s prima ballerina, Sylvie (Robinson). Nisa escapes, leaving the school on edge, and breaks her pal Ria (Knopf) out of the asylum where she’s being held – as, apparently, you are – in order to assist with an even more deadly assault. Meanwhile, the atmosphere at the school is becoming increasingly abusive and strained. Student Maren (Martinez) is disturbed to find that the novel she is writing is turning eerily predictive. Is her old typewriter somehow causing events to take place? Or is it all in her psyche?
There may be a bit of Showgirls, or perhaps cable series Flesh and Bone, to be found in here, Masters clearly having a fine appreciation of the trash aesthetic, which shines through in dialogue, particularly Sylvie’s, that is occasionally so dumb, it’s positive genius. The use of classical music for the soundtrack is not bad either. However, these don’t even start to balance the negatives: these begin with audio which often appears to have been recorded from the bottom of a nearby well, and continues into a slew of characters who look, sound and (fail to) act alike. This lends itself to viewer confusion, not helped by the fact your attention will likely be wandering to more interesting things – specifically, in my case, our cat playing in a cardboard box. There’s just too many scenes of the cast sitting about jawing tediously at each other, before Nisa and Ria kick things off.
Even though the grand finale is rather less than grand, the budget restrictions here being what they are, it does represent an improvement over the rest of the film, purely because something is happening. Quite what that something is, it’s harder to say, since this is where the giallo influence of Dario Argento really kicks in, meaning copious dollops of style, in lieu of substance. Except, Masters is not exactly Argento, and apparently forgets there’s more to creating cinematic style, than throwing a couple of filters on your lights. Much as I’m loathe to criticize micro-budget indie film, there just isn’t enough here to merit more than a clear warning.
Dir: Jared Masters
Star: Sydney Raye, Mindy Robinson, Marla Martinez, Jessica Knopf