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Dark Reel (DVD Review)

1 Feb, 2009 By: John Latchem

Dark Reel

Prebook 2/3/09; Street 3/10/09
North American
$26.99 DVD
Rated ‘R’ for bloody horror violence, language and some sexuality/nudity.
Stars Edward Furlong, Tiffany Shepis, Lance Henriksen, Mercedes McNab, Tony Todd, Rena Riffel.

Adam Waltz (Edward Furlong of Terminator 2) is living every fanboy’s dream. He wins a walk-on role in a cheesy movie called The Pirate Wench, directed by cultish horror director Derek Deeds (Jeffrey Vincent Parise), and manages to hook up with his favorite actress, Cassie Blue (scream queen Tiffany Shepis).

But he gets more than he bargained for when the set is haunted by a long-dead actress (Alexandra Holden), whose bloody dismemberment is depicted in a gruesome prologue. Soon after, starlets begin dying, and suspicions turn to the brash young newcomer.

Dark Reel can’t quite decide if it’s a ghost story or a slasher movie, so it tries to be both. The fusion is clunky at best, but the result should placate fans of gooey makeup effects. One by one, the killer treats his victims like Gallagher treats watermelons — with blunt force and a lot of splatter.

With slow pacing, Dark Reel looks and feels indie from the get-go, but its cast sports a good horror pedigree, including Mercedes McNab (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”) and longtime horror icon Tony Todd (Candyman, Final Destination). Lance Henriksen steals the show as a greedy studio boss who decides to convert the murders into cheap publicity.

Dark Reel manages to present a horror film about the making of a horror film without referencing the obvious parallels, a la Scream. The script cites a few amusing observations about the nitty-gritty Hollywood underbelly. This film within a film is not about making a blockbuster, but the myriad ‘B’ movies that star nobodies and inevitably end up on late-night cable.

Dark Reel may very well meet a similar fate.

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