Rey Ciso (Adam Brooks) was once the most celebrated film editor in the world, but ever since a lapse in judgement while working on the longest film ever made left him four fingers short he’s been relegated to cutting trashy genre movies for no-talent hacks. When cast members on his latest project start turning up dead the cop investigating the crimes, Det. Peter Porfiry (Matthew Kennedy), immediately sets his sights on Rey forcing the editor into a race against time to identify the real culprit before it’s too late. His efforts are complicated by several factors including the possibility that he may be the murderer after all.
The list of suspects is as long as Dario Argento’s Giallo is terrible and includes Rey’s wife Josephine (Paz de la Huerta), an actor named Cal (Conor Sweeney) who’s benefiting from the newly available roles, Rey’s eager new assistant (Samantha Hill) and the head of a nearby asylum played by Udo Kier. To be fair Dr. Casini is a very small role, but anytime Kier’s in a movie it’s only common sense to consider him a suspect.
Astron-6 is a Canadian collective of genre filmmakers who lean toward the ridiculous, and the results are not for everybody. They’re not even for most people. Hell, judging by their budgets and audience numbers they’re barely for anyone, and that’s a damn shame because The Editor is not only their best film yet but also one of the best comedic horror films to dirty up the screen in years. It’s a balls-out homage to Italian giallo and horror films loaded with references to classics of the genre splashed liberally throughout, and while it would have benefited from tighter editing (surprise!) the film remains a blood-spattered, flesh-filled, laugh out-loud slice of cinematic fun.
The plot synopsis above sounds pretty straightforward, but it needs to be said – especially if you haven’t seen Astron-6’s previous two features, Manborg and Father’s Day – that this is not a straightforward movie. It’s an homage that goes heavy on the spoof while avoiding the pitfalls of dumb horror riffs like the Scary Movie franchise. These guys love Italian horror/thrillers almost as much as they love movies, and while they’re working with a minuscule budget (albeit one much higher than they’re used to) the results are a movie overflowing with unrated affection and a darkly comedic bent.
Many of the gags/homages are visual with garish red lights illuminating various scenes, posters for films like The Cat With the Velvet Blade decorating the walls and some good fun with bad dubbing. References to past Italian classics like Lucio Fulci’s The Beyond and many of Argento’s films fly by at a fast clip ensuring you miss one for every one you catch, but the film also lifts genre tropes too. Everything goes through the Astron-6 filter though meaning much of it is turned to eleven on the homage dial. Also turned up to high are the sex and gore scenes, of which there are many. And yes, they are frequently glorious in both visual and comedic appeal.
As great and fun as the visuals are they don’t come at the expense of the script. Brooks, Kennedy and Sweeney co-wrote the film, and they manage a rare treat in that while they succeed in poking fun and having laughs at the expense of Italian genre films The Editor actually works as an entertaining example in its own right. It’s certainly no weirder than Argento’s Phenomena and no less violent than Fulci’s The New York Ripper. (It is far less misogynistic than the latter film though.) They deliver a legitimate story here, one with mystery and character and exposed genitalia, but they weave it through with smartly comedic dialogue – “In ancient Roman times, editors were considered to be bridges to the netherworld!” – making for a fun and funny experience.
Oddly, or perhaps quite fittingly, the film’s only real flaw is that it feels overly long at times and would have benefited greatly from some additional editing for time and pacing. Some duplicated gags could have been snipped for example along with time spent at the police station with Porfiry’s boss. The scenes and repeated jokes add little and instead serve to drag the momentum at times.
The Editor is very funny in both its script and steady onslaught of visual gags, and it’s a film I look forward to viewing again on disc knowing that I missed as many jokes as I caught. It will also exceed any minimum standard you set for gore and nudity – the film reaches a point where background players just begin disrobing every time they pass into frame – so for all those reasons I say again that this film and these filmmakers are not for everyone. But if you enjoy wet innards, naked people wrapped only in mystery and killers who kill people, well, you’re one of the chosen few.
The Upside: Very funny; doesn’t shy away from the gore or naughty bits of flesh; fantastically loving homage to giallo films and Italian horror with references both broad and subtle
The Downside: Needs to trim some redundant interactions in second act
On the Side: The Editor was funded in part through an IndieGoGo campaign.
Related Topics: Horror