Welcome, Dear Reader, to my new weekly review series: Fucked Up Fridays! It’s exactly what it sounds like. Every Friday, I’ll pick some strange, obscure, fucked up piece of cinema and bring it to your attention. The stuff I’ll do here will vary from Japanese weirdness to good old fashioned American smut and everything in between. Is there some horrendous film that holds a special place in your heart? Did you create something that would fit the bill of this series? Let me know in the comment section. I am always looking for something new.
Today’s film is The Great American Snuff Film, the story of William Allen Grone, serial killer and filmmaker. In this film, Grone and his partner in crime, Roy, kidnap two beautiful young women and haul them out to Roy’s junkyard. Once there, they keep the girls tied up in a trailer for days in order to torture and finally kill them. Grone, spurred by the FBI’s statement that snuff films don’t exist, plans to drain the two of all hope and humanity before using them to create the first real snuff film.
This film is set up a dramatization of the kidnapping and subsequent murder of the girls including Grone’s two-and-a-half minute snuff film at the end. It was, according to the film, recovered when authorities searched his home in connection to his charges. This story, combined with the grainy lofi recording of most of the movie really mesh well to make something that is, at times, genuinely unsettling.
The most unsettling bits of the film are not really involved with the action, though. The most fucked up parts of this movie come from the voiceover which is made up of William Grone’s journal entries. Hearing him dispassionately describe his crimes and victims in detail can get pretty chilling at times. The only points where the narrator really shows any passion is when he speaks of the terror on his victims faces and his drive to create The Great American Snuff Film. Even when he is attacking his captives, he shows little passion. William Allen Grone is not taking out his rage on these women, he is attempting to fill them with his emptiness.
While I could see the argument for this being just another shock piece, it is pretty well put together. The performances are pretty solid. Roy’s insanity and the fear and waning resolve of the women both come through really well. William’s obsession over making his film perfect is on clear display as well. The cinematography switches between grainy traditional filming and even more grainy super 8 found footage. While it may not be the most beautifully shot movie I’ve ever seen the cinematography fits the film like a glove: it wouldn’t have been as effective any other way, in my opinion.
In the end, William has to rush his film and the two-and-a-half minute silent murder on scratched and skippling film is a far cry from the masterpiece he had in mind. He makes due with what he has, though and for all intents and purposes it comes out just fine. The frustration building up to the end and the release of the kill are both brought across really well even without sound.
All in all, would I recommend this film? Sure. It’s a well put together look into the mind of a killer with some truly chilling moments. If you wanted to edge your way into extreme cinema, I think this would be a good start. With an R rating, it had no real choice but to be a little tamer than many films I’ll be talking about in this series but it wasn’t a bad way to cap off the week.