Rated R, 82 min. Directed by Kimble Rendall. Starring Kylie Minogue, Geoff Revell, Sarah Kants, Simon Bossell, Jessica Napier, Molly Ringwald.
Beyond the rubbernecking factor, there's very little to recommend Cut, an Australian-made slasher flick that would surely have languished in direct-to-video purgatory but for the presence of erstwhile teenybopper icons Ringwald and Minogue (whose billing, shall we say, is incommensurate with the duration of her screen time). If nothing else, the filmmakers achieve what actually seems to be their objective: proving to the world that the Land Down Under, known for its prestigious if staid national film school, can turn out schlock as messy as any Poverty Row shelf-warmer. The plot is a pastiche of just about everything in the horror section, from Alice, Sweet Alice to The Wizard of Gore, and screenwriter Dave Warner hurls celluloid references at the viewer like so many dodgeballs (note the Jules et Jim joke). It's got those Meddling Film Students Who Pay No Attention to the Curse; the Indefatigable Killer of Mysterious (Supernatural?) Origin and Corny Tagline (“Now you die!”); the gimmicky, bad-ass weapon (a pair of buffed-out garden shears); and the Movie-Within-a-Movie That Kills Its Audience (think: 1991's Popcorn, or Lamberto Bava's Demons). Ringwald makes like Norma Desmond as a screechy faded film starlet brought back to finish shooting Hot Blooded, the aforementioned Movie-Within-a-Movie, heedless of the Foreboding, Explicatory Dialogue (“You don't go playing with nightmares!”). She's all leopard-print and cleavage, which is fun in a way, even if Ringwald is about as naturally over-the-top as Al Gore. While she natters on about tofu and stunt drivers, the rest of the cast lines up dutifully for one outré killing scene after another. There's no law against another winking, self-referential horror parody, but there's not much of a need for one, either. Compared to its most obvious point of reference, Wes Craven's genuinely scary Scream, Cut looks more like Stab 3, the Movie-Within-a-Movie That Kills Its Actors in Scream 3. The production values here are very low, the members of the ensemble are scarcely differentiated from one another, the “whodunit” resolution is risible, and the suspense factor is practically zero. And though the movie tries to excuse itself with self-deprecating jokes, much of the humor just falls flat. But like many a B-grade slasher movie before it, Cut throws itself wholeheartedly into the gore effects, a fact that might possibly attract those die-hard horrorheads who gravitate toward Lucio Fulci films (for the novelty murders, not for the atmosphere) and the like. Others will likely not enjoy the cut-off thumb, the decapitation, and the nasty impaling -- to reveal these moments barely scratches the surface -- while gorehounds may wonder why we don't actually get to see the bit of business with Kylie Minogue's tongue. Random note: Director Kimble Rendall is better known stateside as one of the Hoodoo Gurus.
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