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THE MOVIE (aka RENEGADE, 2022)

Directed and written by Michael Mandell.
Starring Bonnie Root, Jarrod Pistilli
Check out the trailer here!!

An aspiring filmmaker Walter (Jarrod Pistilli) invades the home of fading superstar actress Janet (Bonnie Root). Through his own camera lens, Walter tortures, robs, rapes, and forces Janet to star in his movie.

THE MOVIE is a found footage-esque movie all made from the perspective of one madman’s camera. It is a film plot done before, going all the way back to Scorsese’s KING OF COMEDY and back again to JOKER where someone seeking fame and stardom takes the bull by the horns or in this case, actress by the hair, and decides that if the studio doesn’t want to make their film, they’ll break any law and moral value in order to make it themselves. That’s the overall theme of THE MOVIE and while it has been done before, THE MOVIE does a decent job of presenting this familiar concept.

The film is also well acted. Bonnie Root is really good as Janet, who at first is aggressive towards her attacker, but soon learns that the only way she may get out of this alive is to go along with this madman’s plan and make his movie. These scenes are believable because, a) she is a film actress and her performance shows she is good at her trade, and also b) Walter is a psychotic moron and is actually convinced she wants to be in his film. Jarrod Pistilli is solid as the psycho wannabe filmmaker. His comic timing is good and he does portray the mania in a believable and scary way.

That’s pretty much all of the good I have to say about THE MOVIE. The rest? Not so good. THE MOVIE is a mean to an extreme and pointless level. Walter’s acts against Janet become increasingly cruel and horrifying. I’m no prude. I’ve endured plenty of torture porn films. I just feel that horror has evolved past that low level in the genre’s history and seeing as this is not only torture porn but also a found footage first person POV film, another subgenre that is quite long in the tooth, THE MOVIE feels like a movie made about fifteen years too late.

It’s not that THE MOVIE doesn’t have anything to say. It’s trying to show the darkness of fame and those overcome by dark aspirations to get a taste of that stardom. But it’s not saying anything new. It goes for very cheap humor that doesn’t hit its mark most of the time. The beats that are supposed to be shocking end up just being disgusting. The tone of the film is all over the place. Is it supposed to be a dark comedy? Sometimes it’s a dark comedy. Other times, it’s just torture and rape porn. Which is…not so funny. Walter forgets he’s making a movie and just robs Janet, then tortures her, and then rapes her, all because it pops into his head at the moment, not because it is in his script. Once the rape occurred, I just checked out of THE MOVIE and couldn’t wait for the torture of me having to watch this film to just come to an end. Honestly, the way the rape is handled in this movie made me want to puke, especially the conversation where Walter denies raping Janet right after he rapes Janet. It’s just guttural violence and mistreatment of women for the sake of it and though it is trying to say something deeper, that’s all it ends up being. It also ends on a lackluster beat so bleak that it makes the whole endeavor feel pointless.

So while there is talent in the acting and the premise has depth, THE MOVIE really is one film I couldn’t wait to finally be over.

Check out the trailer here!!