Synopsis: Rey Ciso (Adam Brooks) was once the greatest editor the world had ever seen. Since a horrific accident left him with four wooden fingers on his right hand, he’s had to resort to cutting pulp films and trash pictures. When the lead actors from the film he’s been editing turn up murdered at the studio, Rey is fingered as the number one suspect. The bodies continue to pile up in this absurdist giallo-thriller as Rey struggles to prove his innocence and learn the sinister truth lurking behind the scenes.
The Editor 7.25
eyelights: its style. its homages. its satire.
eyesores: its genre specificity.
“You’re like Van Gogh, with his wooden ear.”
‘The Editor’ is a 2014 low budget motion picture by a Canadian filmmaking company called Astron-6, headed by Adam Brooks and Matthew Kennedy. The collective made its name with ‘Father’s Day’, its 2011 feature-film debut, and have been releasing ’80s b-movie-influenced fare ever since.
This is their third film.
I literally don’t know exactly where I’d caught wind of ‘The Editor’. I just remember that what I read left enough of an impression that, when I saw the blu-ray at my local pawn shop, it immediately caught my attention. All I knew was that it was supposed to be a pretty decent spoof of giallo films.
And, as a minor fan of Dario Argento and Mario Bava, I was keen to see it.
The story is simple: Set in the late ’70s, we follow giallo film editor Rey Ciso as he gets immersed in a series of brutal killings – all very similar in nature to the ones in the movies he’s working on. Everyone is a suspect, but Rey is unique: he once had a meltdown while editing, cutting off his own fingers.
…and, coincidentally enough, each new victim has had the fingers of their right hands severed.
Now, not only does Rey have to finish editing his film, he also has to stay alive!
Frankly, I was on board with ‘The Editor’ the moment that the über-’80s Astron-6 logo hit the screen. To me, that indicated just what the company was about, and I was confident their intention fell in line with my expectations – even if they didn’t find a way to 100% succeed with their delivery.
It’s true, though, that the filmmakers had their eye on the ball, using color schemes and lighting that are very reminiscent of some of Argento’s cult classics, and bringing in musicians that could give the picture a giallo flavour – including frequent Argento collaborator Claudio Simonetti himself! Score!
But the picture is clearly a modern film: shot on little more than one hundred thirty thousand dollars, and on a RED camera, ‘The Editor’ emulates a ’70s giallo style but doesn’t quite manage to dress up for the part. The very first scene, set in a strip club, gave it away – though it still looked good.
One rapidly forgets this, however, as one gets caught up in the absurdity of each moment. Giallo is already pretty ridiculous, given the whacked out plots, gimmicks and contrivances, but Brooks and Kennedy add layers of outrageousness by sending up genre clichés and throwing in their own gags.
You want hilariously awkward self-introductions and exposition? Check! You want campy acting? Check! You want needlessly gratuitous sex and violence? Check! You want poorly-timed overdubbing (the originals were often filmed with international casts, so the voices were dubbed later)? Check!
And do you want bizarro supernatural sequences that don’t make any sense whatsoever? Well, there’s this bit where Rey finds a portal behind his bathroom mirror and climbs into a nightmarescape of some sort. It’s such an outrageously surreal moment that you could only find in a giallo film.
Astron-6 know their giallo.
I, however, though I’ve seen a few, am not enough of a genre fan to get all the references. So I can’t even imagine what an average audience would think of Astron-6’s creation, should they actually stumble upon this rare gem. It’s such a niche film that only select few will truly be able to appreciate it.
I actually went so far as to watch the picture with the audio commentary, to see if the filmmakers might reveal their direct influences, but aside for some small references to ‘The Beyond‘, ‘Tenebre‘, and ‘The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh’, it didn’t provide much insight into exactly what they were spoofing.
Still, I did get some laughs out the axe scene that’s directly inspired by ‘The Shining‘, in which the police inspector tries to rescue his girlfriend – to morbidly funny results. And there was this genius scene in which two cops interrogate a dancer and, thinking she’s wearing a mask, pull her face off!
You also have to look at each scene for its little details and idiosyncrasies, because Brooks and Kennedy had fun putting all sorts of silliness in the background – like having everyone -everyone- eating burgers as they pass by, having a couple of nude dancers play patty-cake, or putting up spoof movie posters.
By having a good time making the movie, they make watching it a good time.
So I liked ‘The Editor’. I can’t say that I got all of it, but I give it the benefit of the doubt in light of the fact that I did pick up a few references, and I enjoyed the film as a whole. Still, only die-hard giallo fans can say whether or not Astron-6 were truly successful in their attempt. Either way, it’s a tasty late-night treat.
If you like your treats bloody.
Date of viewing: September 5, 2016