Friday, March 7, 2014

Review: 7th Day

We seem to be experiencing a bit of a renaissance as far as serial killer flicks go.  After a long period of very few interesting human monsters, a trio of impressive movies has surfaced.  Jason Hoover’s I Am No One blew me away, The Sleaze Box’s Amerikan Holokaust threw a new wrinkle into the tried and true formula, and Jason Koch’s 7th Day brings us an engaging, darkly comic look into the mind of a madman.  It’s a splatter flick wrapped in a character study, and I’m happy to report that it works on both counts.
Synopsis: A pervert, murderer, and hopeless romantic, Allen Dean (Mark Sanders) is on a seven day journey to discovery his real true love. He is torn between Denise the waitress he believes he loves and his first true love, murder. Director Jason Koch adds a surreal tone to this violent tale seen through the eyes of a serial killer. We delve into Allen's life and thoughts as he prepares for what he believes to be his destiny, impending fame. A story of creation and destruction, cold and gritty with a touch morbid humor. More than a retelling of the modern serial killing mythology, 7th DAY examines every man's existence as Allen emulates what he thinks is normal behavior.
As we watch the events of a week in the life of a serial killer unfold, Allen (portrayed with pitch perfect awkwardness by Mark Sanders) provides us with a running commentary of his life.   The brilliance of the screenplay lies in the growing divergence between real life and Allen’s image of himself, his existence, and his purpose.  We see what’s actually going on in his world, but hearing him talk us through these scenes through his eyes paints a great picture of what it means to see reality through a lens of psychosis.  In his mind, everything he’s doing makes perfect sense.  Seeing him from a naturalized view while delving into his psyche makes him very real.  This isn’t the usual romanticized cinematic maniac.  This is a sicko you can actually picture existing in your town. 
That disparity between reality and… um, his reality is also where the humor shines through.  Oh yes! Don’t let all this talk of slaughter and mayhem fool you.  There are parts of this film that are laugh out loud funny in a pitch black way.  Then again, maybe I just have a f**ked up sense of humor.
The real strength of the film, and any serial killer flick really, is how human and scarily relatable Koch makes Allen.  Yes, he’s a psycho.  Hopefully none of us share his propensity for murder, but on a certain level it’s a story of a man dealing with mundane problems in his own way.  Who amongst us has never deluded ourselves into believing that we might have a chance with someone who’s out of our league?  Who can’t understand wondering if your neighbor might know something about you that you wish they didn’t?  Hell, I’d be willing to bet that more of us have had the particular near heart attack of talking to the cops while having something to hide than haven’t.  Sure, it might have come in the form of going through a roadblock with a bag of weed in your glove box instead of Johnny Law coming knocking when you have a corpse in the house, but to an extent his anxieties are the same as our own.  The fact of how uncomfortably close this character we see as repulsive and depraved comes to being relatable is the most frightening thing about 7th Day.
The cinematography and editing deserve a mention.  The camera work is fluid without resorting to the wobble-cam that infests so many independent flicks these days.  Stephen Rubac (cinematographer) shows quite a knack for interesting shot composition.  Much of the film seems to have been shot hand held, but the shot remains steady.  This is especially appreciated during the murder sequences, where lesser filmmakers would employ a lot of amateurish camera tricks.  These guys have the good sense to give us a good look at what’s going on and let the action speak for itself.
As far as the gore, it’s top notch as expected.  That’s one of the things I love about effects artists like Mr. Koch stepping into the role of director.  More often than not, they make sure that the effects are up to snuff.  The gooey parts are all practical, there’s plenty of them, and they look great. The necrophilia, cannibalism, and gory dismemberment on dosplay may be a little much for the unadventurous, but the gorehounds will leave happy.
Random Thought #1: Probably my favorite thing in the flick is a character that functions as a physical manifestation of Allen’s delusions of grandeur.  A lot of people have seen fit to describe this character in their reviews.  These folks need a swift kick to whatever genitalia they happen to possess, because it’s much too brilliant a piece of business to spoil.
Random Thought #2: Has anyone else noticed the recent rise in people shitting themselves in movies?  When did that become a thing?
Random Thought #3: I wanna see Michael Brecher in more stuff.
If this recent spate of killer serial killer films is an indication of the direction the subgenre is headed, I’m all for it.  If 7th Day, Jason Koch’s first feature, is an indication of what we can expect when he takes to the director’s chair, I’m all for that too. The combination of good gore, effective writing, and solid acting again proves to be a potent cocktail.   7th Day takes you on a hell of a trip, displaying the extreme violence mankind is capable of while showing you that the sick mind of a killer is a little more like yours than you’re willing to admit.  Nathan says check it out.

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