On August 4, the film “Slaughter Montage” is released in Russian cinemas, which opened the Cannes Film Festival in the spring. The film was directed by a very diverse director Michel Hazanavicius – the creator of the Oscar-winning “The Artist”, the ironic biography “Young Godard” and the comedies of the “Agent 117” series.
It’s worth mentioning right away that Killer Editing is a remake of the Japanese film Zombies in One Plan, and it’s very accurate, almost frame-by-frame in some scenes. Therefore, fans of the original picture is unlikely to laugh. But still, the original source is not very well known to a wide audience, so for the majority, the work of Hazanavicius will become something fresh. And as a standalone work, Killer Montage is a very funny movie that deceives the viewer more than once.
“Killer Montage” talks about the problems of filmmaking
A French director with a Japanese name Higurashi (Romain Duris) is making a cheap zombie horror film. To achieve complete authenticity, he awakens the real living dead who attack the set. The actors are hysterical, people are dying all around, but the author does not want to stop the work.
In fact, the novice director Remy (still the same Romain Duris) is invited to direct the same zombie horror, or rather, a remake of a Japanese horror film. Moreover, the author of the adaptation cannot change anything in the plot, up to the names. He agrees, but the preparation process turns into torture, and when the shooting begins, everything falls apart completely. But Remy has no right to make a mistake – he has to produce a half-hour picture without editing splicing, and even from the first take.
Looks like 2022 is turning into the year of movie comedies. So, in the spring, “ The Unbearable Weight of a Great Talent ” was released, where Nicolas Cage plays himself in the film, the plot of which is immediately discussed. In the summer, the “Main Role” appeared with Penelope Cruz and Antonio Banderas about staging copyright films. And at the end of July, the HBO series Irma Vep, about the filming of the new version of Vampires in 1916, ended. And now there is “Killer montage”.
One can only speculate here as to why this happened. Either with the development of streaming services, many films are released on any topic, and all that remains is to talk about the process of their creation. Whether during the pandemic, the authors had time to reflect.
Moreover, if in “The Unbearable Gravity” and “The Leading Role” they talk about fictional plots, then “Irma Vep” is a remake of a film about filming a remake of a real movie. But here you can go a little crazy, so it’s better to return to the “Killer Montage”.
There is also a difficult balance between realism and fantasy. For example, the plot of the picture even takes into account the very existence of the “Zombies in One Plan” tape, although in a slightly modified form. Here it is a half-hour film shot in one shot, the same movie that is shown at the beginning of the original. And that’s what the main character should do. It’s like a remake within a remake.
But it’s all just a cover. At its core, Killer Montage is the most honest story about the problems of filming. And the beauty is that this is not some kind of masterpiece, like in ” Munk “, dedicated to the creation of “Citizen Kane”, and not a grandiose failure, like in “The Creator’s Woe” about “The Room”. Killer Editing is about working on a mediocre and nondescript film that is scheduled to be released on streaming. Viewers can only be attracted by an unusual presentation and live broadcast. And the rest is just a soulless remake, which initially no one cares and which few people will look at. Even the producer directly tells the director not to think about it, but simply shoot what they say to him.
And this, perhaps, is the reason why Hazanavicius released his picture right now. Firstly, it is a rebuke to the endless mindless remakes that are filmed both in the US and in Europe. And the sarcasm here is on two levels at once. It is in the unfinished plot of the film that the characters are shooting: here, for example, they mention the experiments of the Japanese army, although the action takes place in France. And the very fact that the director sent a verbatim remake to Cannes, in which the actress from the original also starred, also seems ironic.
And secondly, Killer Montage looks much more relevant in the era of streaming development than in 2017, when Zombies One Plan came out. Conditional Netflix clearly follows the principles of the picture: the platform needs more material to fill the library, but its quality is the second question. So for such services, with unenviable regularity, they shoot exactly the same nondescript work.
“Slaughter montage” is built very unusually
Unfortunately, any review of this film cannot be without spoilers. Even everything described above after the first paragraph of the synopsis reveals some twists and turns. But Killer Montage has enough surprises in store for this information not to spoil the viewing experience.
The fact is that the picture begins with the same film within the film. And the first 30 minutes the viewer sees just a parody of a bad movie. And then they show how it was created and why everything turned out that way.
But it won’t just be a backstory. The story about the shooting complements the feeling of the first part. Watching the preparation, you can guess why some roles have changed, where other actors came from in the frame. And unexpectedly, a light comedy turns not just into a blende, but into a puzzle movie : the details fall into place at the right moment, from which a funny and lively story grows.
And the last half hour literally repeats the plot, but from a different point of view. And here they already explain all the oddities that can be seen at the beginning: from the position of the camera to the most ridiculous replicas of the characters.
Because of this structure, Killer Editing immediately makes you want to turn it on again after the finale. It’s good that critics are sent copies of films! Alas, the rest of the audience was less fortunate.
“Killer montage” combines different types of humor and drama
The hardest thing about comedy reviews is explaining why they’re funny. It’s like telling the meaning of a joke: everything seems to be clear, but it’s no longer fun. In the case of Killer Editing, this is fully manifested.
After all, here the humorous component changes at least twice. At first, the picture pleases with its parody – it resembles the film “Planet Terror” by Robert Rodriguez, where bad movies are portrayed in all seriousness.
And then everything turns into jokes about filmmaking itself, the clash of cultures, the arrogance of actors and horror clichés. And here I would like to separately praise the author, who managed not to turn this part into endless references to the world of cinema and not to overload the plot with memes understandable only to connoisseurs. Both the “Main Role” and the new “Irma Vep” suffer from this.
And all this is preparation for the final. The comedic component is fully revealed here. After all, it turns out that the viewer was waiting for a crazy performance in which funny scenes fall one after another. Moreover, the events themselves are amusing, and the fact that they have already been shown, but then they seemed just strange.
However, there is something in Killer Montage that does not allow the picture to slide into outright buffoonery. Indeed, behind all the amusingness of the plot, the director’s personal statement about creativity shines through. And although the basis of the script belongs to the Japanese Shinichiro Ueda, Michel Hazanavicius devotes more time to this topic. Perhaps the thought was more important to him.
This is the story of a man who sincerely wants to create something good. Yes, he is not a genius and not even a master. But the director is almost the only one who really burns with the project. And it turns out that Killer Editing is a story about a small creator who is squeezed from all sides by big producers, actors and external circumstances. And in the end, let him do something clumsy, but according to his own rules.
Only the name can scare away from watching “Killer Montage”. But, as with Killer Vacation, it has nothing to do with the original and only confuses the viewer. In fact, this is a witty comedy about the world of cinema, which will be understandable to any viewer, and by the end it will give out an endless stream of very funny scenes.
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