The best way to describe Adam Rifkin’s dark comedy horror, Director’s Cut is ‘so meta it hurts’. Now, we all love a nod to audience, an in-joke about the genre or even honourable mentions or homage to films, but there is the fear of taking it too far and Director’s Cut does just that. It’s a spoof within a spoof, within a spoof with the crazed protagonist giving the onscreen commentary on the making of a crowd-funded horror movie that is a puzzling thriller similar to ‘Se7en’ called ‘Knocked Off’.

Teamed with acclaimed director Adam Rifkin and a host of sort-of-famous faces, Penn Jillette – of sleight of hand magical duo Penn and Teller –  conjures a mind bending, mash-up that’s part narrative thriller, part amateur director’s cut from the perspective of super-fan Herbert Blount. We see crowdfunding cineaste Blount go to great lengths to force the film’s leading lady Missi Pyle [The Artist, Gone Girl] into remaking the film the way he envisioned.

It’s fair to say, it’s unlike any other film I’ve seen and the premise is interesting. The film which is being made in the movie, ‘Knocked Off’ is your typical low budget serial killer thriller and Blount’s voiceover throughout picks apart the continuity errors, product placement and references films and directors one to the dozen. It’s meant to be funny, and at times it is but the joke gets old, fast. Blount’s ‘bonus scenes’ that he adds to his Director’s Cut are of course ridiculously awful and mostly there to show his obsession with Missi Pyle.

From the outset it’s clear that Missi is Blount’s reason for crowdfunding ‘Knocked Off’ and his apparent celebrity crush spills over into stalking very quickly, which is creepy and a believable sense of dread breaks up the monotony of the endless self-referential jokes. Jillette does a brilliant job at delivering a comedic performance whilst also having a threatening presence.

The tension builds steadily throughout the film with Blount swiftly changing from softly spoken film geek on our voiceover to menacing, fanatical celeb-napper. It’s a little predictable but effective all the same. Sadly, this tension builds to a crescendo and then crashes at the finale. The final scenes could have been more terrifying and the directors had the opportunity to deliver a brutal kill / getaway scene which would have juxtaposed the jovial content perfectly – but it just failed to deliver. Jillette’s imposing stature paired with Blount’s unhinged mind could have made for a truly terrifying moment but it’s completely missed.

Cinephiles and horror fans will get the jokes and might enjoy it for that reason but I can’t see this having any appeal with wider audiences for a general cinema release.

It seems feasible that crowdfunding does open projects up to obsessive fans and this chilling prospect could have worked alongside the comedy nicely.

Sadly, these genuine scares are lost amidst the winks and nods to the audience. I’m not really sure why they felt the need to make a film that’s always saying, ‘look how funny making a film is’ and ‘look how weird film fans can be’.

Horror Channel Frightfest review: Director's Cut
2.5Overall Score
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About The Author

Emily Stockham

Emily is from South London and has a degree in English Literature. Emily is a marketing assistant who writes about films and music in her spare time. Horror and grindhouse are her thing - although she will happily watch anything if it means a trip to the cinema.