Series 7 (2001)
Director: Daniel Minahan
Ever watched that show called â€śThe Contendersâ€ť? It kicks major arse! Itâ€™s about a small group of "regular Joeâ€™sâ€ť selected at random, given weapons and then told to hunt each other down. Eight months pregnant Dawn (Smith) has been the champ for a while but new contenders are now being slapped in! Will she be dethroned?? Stay tuned!
Finally a movie that examines our fascination with â€śreality TVâ€ť in a violent no-holds barred way. Yes, â€śNatural Born Killersâ€ť explored the same themes but not in this â€śreality basedâ€ť fashion. The whole film is a collection of episodes with cameramen constantly following the contestants around, as we the audience members, are put in the â€śvoyeurâ€ť seat. The film looks exactly like an episode of â€śCOPSâ€ť or any other â€śreality TVâ€ť trash show. The players in the film often give on-camera interviews, we get some voice-overs, get to witness many violent acts (fun) and we are also sometimes treated with re-creations of events with â€śactorsâ€ť (pretty funny). If I would zap my TV on and see this flick playing, I would think it was a real show.
The film is populated by groovy characters and what I really dug about them is their dualities. Dawn (Smith) for example, is a soon to be mother and has feelings but she kills without mercy. Connie (Burke) is a practicing Catholic and a nurse but when it comes to offing someone, sheâ€™s sneaky and very cold. She actually gave me the creeps and I just wanted that beeyatch to die so bad. Testicular cancer victim Jeff (Fitzgerald) is just a mess. This whacked out dude is all over the place (does he want to die or not? Is he gay or not? Is he really a pacifist?) and his knack for changing his mind at the drop of a shell cracked me up.
But the character I had the most fun with was teenage cutie Lindsay (Wever). Seeing her brandishing a rifle, a knife or showing off the bullet-proof vest her boyfriend gave her as a gift made me chuckle big time (and also turned me on, but thatâ€™s another story). I also really liked how her protective parents followed her around everywhere, rooting for her to kill other contestants while never getting involved. It's great to see such upstanding family values.
What I didnâ€™t like about the film is that a few characters get left in the dust. Tony (Kaycheck) and Franklin (Venture) are not concentrated on enough. What I saw of Tony amused me a lot (his â€śescapeâ€ť with an hostage is hilarious) and I wish I had seen the â€śhombreâ€ť more. The film develops him strongly early on and I wanted more of him. Raving mad Franklin (Venture) is also wasted but heâ€™s not as big a loss as Tony.
The film also cheats itself out of some gnarly set ups. Actually most of the violent scenes involving Lindsey left me hanging. Seeing her walk in a house and hear off-camera gunshots didnâ€™t do it for me. And when sheâ€™s chasing the old dude up over the small hill, I really wouldâ€™ve loved to have seen what happened. I guess the director wanted to build momentum but the flick put me in â€śPeeping Tomâ€ť moodâ€¦I wanted to see it all!
Last but not least, the ending left me feeling torn. Without giving it away, I will say that on a screenwriting levelâ€¦it works. On a "keeping with the rules of the movie" levelâ€¦it also works. But as a crowd-pleaserâ€¦it doesnâ€™t work. I just wasnâ€™t fully satisfied.
I still canâ€™t deny that I enjoyed myself with Series 7. It moves fast, has great comic timing (all about that gnarly Goth home videoâ€¦lol) and provides for a clever observation of the whole â€śreality TVâ€ť syndrome. The scary thing is that weâ€™re not too far off from what Series 7 is talking about. Reality shows are quite popular and we seem to enjoy seeing bad violent things happen to our fellow man on the tube. Itâ€™s sad but heyâ€¦ â€ścâ€™est la vieâ€ť. Hopefully violence will never get THAT accepted. Now open up a beer, reload your â€śGlock 9â€ť and read the rest of this reviewâ€¦.
Some gunshot wounds and one hell of a brutal beating (it hurt me watching it)!
Everybody is so genuine. Brooke Smith (Dawn) plays white trash perfectly; she looks great bare foot, pregnant and brandishing a gun. She brings some humanity to the part but I still didnâ€™t know if I should love her or hate her. That ambivalent feeling kept me interested in her. Marylouise Burke (Connie) is chilling as the good Catholic nurse. Sheâ€™s the sneakiest of the bunch when it comes to murder and that made her very scary. Glenn Fitzgerald (Jeff) is dead-on as the confused testicular cancer victim/maybe gay/ex-Goth boy. He cracked me up! Michael Kaycheck (Tony) is also hilarious as the â€śtoughâ€ť Tony. What a coward! I needed more of him. Merrit Wever (Lindsay) is way cute; especially when sheâ€™s holding a semi automatic rifleâ€¦I think Iâ€™m in love. Richard Venture (Franklin) lets loose and is so out of his mind! I wish we saw more of him too.
T & A
This isnâ€™t â€śJerry Springerâ€ťâ€¦nothing remotely delicious-looking surfaces. Where are the strippers? The incestuous lesbian sisters? The transvestites on crack? (Just kidding)
The directorâ€™s background in tabloids and television is very apparent. This flick looks exactly like a TV show. It's shot on digital video, has voice-overs, shaky cam effects, quick edits and corny dramatic music. The only times it doesnâ€™t feel a 100% real is when the director feels the need to superimpose images. I guess he couldnâ€™t help himself.
A clever use of â€śLove Will Tear Us Apartâ€ť by Joy Divison and some effective rock tunes by Girls Against Boys.
The film has its flaws but hits home in a hard way. I heard some reviewers say that the film overstays its welcome and I have to disagree. I was entertained the whole way, 99% percent of the time I was laughing. And when the film got real violentâ€¦I was still laughing. I guess thatâ€™s the point. Iâ€™m so desensitized to TV violence that I now find it humorous. But thereâ€™s one scene in the film that made me go â€śWTF!â€ť and shocked meâ€¦ thatâ€™s proof that Iâ€™m still humanâ€¦right? Now where do I sign up? I want to be a contestant on this f**king show.
Director quote about the film to his crew: â€śThink of it as if weâ€™re making "The War Of The Worlds". If someone turns on his TV and sees this, I want them to think this is really happening.â€ť
Mission accomplished, bud!