Reviewed by: Ryan Doom
Norbert Caoili and Rob Portmann
and Alena Dashiell
What's it about
In an ode to the class slasher formula, a psycho in a clown mask escapes prison and goes on a killing rampage.
Is it good movie?
In case you didnít read the mini summary an inch or so above this, allow me to repeat: A psycho in a clown mask escapes prison and goes on a killing rampage. Now, consider that plot, and itís not terribly difficult to surmise that the new independent horror film Frayed is obviously very influenced by John Carpenterís eternal classic Halloween. Now thereís several ways to review a film thatís a clear and obvious homage to a classic. Is it finding new ways to introduce the material? Is it just rehashing and updating? Is it cleverly reinventing everything we as an audience knows about the genre? The approach the filmmakers take define the way the audience can perceive it. Dig?
In the case of Frayed, it attempts be the latter rhetorical question, but unfortunately, it just doesnít succeed at that level. It plays like an independent remake without the rights to the characters or ideas. The film, which was shot, directed, and written by three friends from the Pacific Northwest, tries very, very, very hard to recapture the feel and look for the 1980ís vibe, but itís just not there. Sometimes you get a slight sense, other times I checked my watch.
Beyond the Halloween similarities, Frayed does a decent job with two major elements. First, the opening sequence is fantastic. Frightening, gory, repulsive, eerie, it does everything a horror film should do in order to hook its audience. It involves a baseball bat and a womanís head. Itís shockingly perfect. One of the best Iíve seen. (And on that note, most of the gore reminds of great cheap horror movies that had no budget, which usually means excellent, gritty, cheap effects.) Two, the ending is quite good with some interesting twists and turns that wonít necessarily blow anyoneís mind, but its effective and something I didnít see coming. (I donít wanna be that guy who spoils. That guy is a jerk.)
The problem is everything in-between where the film lags like a middle-aged man coming off a Red Bull rush. Itís a little slow in parts. Maybe the trouble or flaw with Frayed is that it adheres too closely to its inspiration. Halloween had what, 252 movies? Add in Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, and all other Carpenter influenced slasher flicks and weíve all seen this before. Even if someoneís never seen a slasher movie, they know of all the elements thanks to the slasher reboot that was Scream. Masked killers and their genre arenít dead, they just canít escape an asylum and chase their sister and terrorize the town folk. Hell, the most blatant ripoff of JC comes when the sister hides from her killer brother in a closet with slotted doors! Come one, you canít do that. Itís one of the most memorable scenes in Halloween!! It just ainít right.
Video / Audio
Video: A crisp and clear Widescreen presentation.
Audio: Presented with the power of 5.1 Dolby Surround.
Pushing the Edge: The Making of Frayed: A 13-and-a-half minute doc looking at some of the making of the film. Good, but not as good as the next two featurettes.
A View to Kill: This is the making of the opening head bashing sequence. Itís fascinating five minute look at one of the worst, most brutal scenes Iíve seen in horror. A great watch.
Inside Quantum: About the post-production, itís a quick five minute feature thatís absolutely great. Itís interesting, informative, and makes me want to make a movie. You get to see the score done and mixed and how certain effects were created.
Commentary: Norbert Caoili, Rob Portmann, and Kurt Svennungsen are the three old friends who got together to shoot this horror feature. Itís a pretty entertaining listen and makes anyone who loves movies want to shoot one. I know I do.
Frayed is a good homage with some excellent gore, some good scares, a boring story, and flat characters. Itís a step above the usual garbage out there, but itís no classic. Nevertheless, Iíd enjoy seeing what these guys do next time out.