I’ve mentioned before that you don’t have to spend a fortune to make good films. Cash is no guarantee of quality, and if you don’t believe me I’d refer you to Titanic. Or Avatar. I was convinced about this during my insomniac channel surfing at stupid o’clock in the morning.
First up we had Left for Dead, a film so obscure I can’t even find it on IMDb. Not an unusual tale on the surface. A bunch of twentysomethings wake up on a mysterious island somewhere in South America, and every time they escape they end up back there. Yeah yeah. Ironed the tee shirt.
What makes it a lot more interesting is that they have all had medical checks while trekking before they ended up on the island, they’re all in tiptop form, their data got sold on the black market, and they’ve been kidnapped to be kept as organ donors.
There’s a deranged surgeon, a crazy rich woman who keeps having people killed out of spite, and a kickarse female lead. Not a recognisable face among them but an entertaining low budget romp for all that.
Another film that must have cost all of ten quid was Panic Button. Four people are chosen by a social network to have an all-expenses weekend in New York. The reason this opus cost so little to make is that nearly all the action takes place in the claustrophobic cabin of a private jet. That could have been dull, but it’s not.
There are some great performances from a bunch of unknowns, and the cinematography is brilliant. The cameras are stopped down to give terrific depth of field (I know, I’m a nerd for knowing this stuff) but the focus pulling is often done to leave the images a bit fuzzy. Then in the post production they’ve bleached out a lot of the colour. Very very good to look at. As indeed is the episode where one of the four has been hit with an axe, and the slashes in his arm and torso, combined with the shadow between his arm and his side, are lit in such a way they resemble the face of one of the other prisoners.
Of course, things are not at all what they seem, and it all goes a lot Lord of the Flies in the Sky. It’s not only that they’ve all fibbed on their All2together user profiles. We’ve all done that, eh? No, they’ve been very naughty indeed, and someone wants them to know they have.
There is a faux ending that makes you go, ‘Saw that coming.’ Then there’s the real ending, which is so deeply disturbing and profoundly unpleasant it makes you feel as if you need a bath.
Just in case you think I spend too much time watching splatterfest films, I could point out that I caught the Anne Hathaway vehicle One Day. I’m such a softie, I know. It’s a will they/won’t they romance, with a midway surprise. And Ms Hathaway always has a rather endearing goofy charm about her. Another 100 odd minutes I didn’t waste.