Chop Shop

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“Just because you CAN make a movie…”

chopshop…doesn’t mean you should. For this movie had a shot at setting a new low: I was serious contemplating awarding it no stars at all, before it fractionally redeemed itself in the final reel. Key word there: fractionally, because there is hardly a level of this which is not awful. Made in 2003, it’s set a decade or so previously and, if you’re being particularly charitable, you could perhaps think the early nineties video and audio quality is an attempt to capture the era in question. The sound – often an issue on micro-budget movies – is particularly terrible, ranging from muffled and inaudibly quiet to ear-splitting loud (and equally inaudible). But there is hardly an aspect here which is not cringe-inducingly bad in execution. Even the overall structure is so flawed, you wonder at what point it ever made sense.

There’s a narrator (Greer), who supposedly is telling the story of Lisa Stewart (Michaels) based on a journal she just happened to find, in which Lisa had documented her entire life – never mind that the journal is a thin school notebook containing barely any content, or that Lisa apparently abandoned this precious record without a second thought, for the narrator to find. As with so many other factors e.g. the scene of Lisa jogging with her journal, the purpose of the narrator is not clear. It seems to be to burble inconsequential rubbish such as – and I paused the movie specifically to write this down – “Now, I never had a near-death experience – but, Lisa, she nearly did.” There is a post-credits sequence which explains who the narrator is speaking to; this makes about as much sense as the rest of the film, which would be not very much.

The story being retold is set mostly at a car-repair place where the heroine takes her vehicle to be fixed after it was in a wreck. When she comes back to check on it, she is assaulted, raped by multiple employees, and dumped back in her own apartment by one of the workers, who doesn’t have the stomach to finish her off as ordered. A fatal mistake! For Lisa’s psyche has been shattered by the attack, and she returns to the compound on Halloween Night to wreak revenge on those who abused her. And, presumably, to pick up her car. It’s clearly aiming to be I Spit On Your Grave but doesn’t have anything like the necessary guts on either end of the rape-revenge story-line, though watching Stewart in psycho mode is at least more fun than watching her as a thoroughly unconvincing Buppie. I particularly laughed like a drain at the use of a vacuum cleaner as an offensive weapon, which could be (yet almost certainly isn’t) intended some kind of pseudo-feminist statement on the role of women in the workplace. Wretched in virtually every way, if there was ever such a thing as getting your artistic license revoked, the creator here should be summoned to court.

Dir: Simuel Denell Rankins
Star: Shannon Michaels, Shannon Greer, Rob Rose, Mark Schell

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