This is the story of seven horror icons picked to visit a horror convention and have their lives taped to find out what happens when fans stop being polite and start getting real.
Okay, so comparing a horror movie to a season of MTV’s “The Real World” is a little abnormal, but who wouldn’t want to see a house full of movie monsters living together, trying to be normal people? While the upcoming horror-comedy Smothered doesn’t follow this path to the letter, it does follow it in spirit.
Directed by John Schneider (Smallville, Dukes of Hazzard), Smothered tells the story of a group of real-life horror icons as they attempt to survive a small, grueling horror convention, Voodoo-Con, on Friday the 13th. With the promise of a little extra money, these ominous souls travel to a local trailer park to scare up the residents, only to learn that they are the ones that should be fearing for their lives.
The stalkers (turned “stalked”) are a mix of actors in the horror biz: Bill Moseley (House of 1,000 Corpses, The Devil’s Rejects, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2); Kane Hodder (Jason Goes to Hell, Jason X, Hatchet); R.A. Mihailoff (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3, Hatchet 2); Don Shanks (Halloween 5). Also featured are Brea Grant, Dane Rhodes, Shanna Forrestall, Michael Berryman, and John Kassir.
Smothered seems to be emulating the idea of putting real-life actors into the film action that they are known for but probably don’t ever do in real life, found recently in films like This is the End (starring James Franco, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, Jay Baruchel, etc. etc. etc.) and My Name is Bruce (starring Bruce Campbell). The only difference is that the actors aren’t playing themselves exactly (Bill Moseley is not playing the part of Bill Moseley), but caricatures of themselves, their characters, and other horror actors.
For instance, Bill Moseley plays Teddy, who seems to be this film’s version of Freddy Krueger (which happens to also have guns attached to his clawed hands. Probably a joke about how far sequels may attempt to reach in later films. Freddy with gun-gloves? Why the hell not…). R.A. Mihailoff’s monster character is Quilt-Face, Kane Hodder isn’t exactly Jason Voorhees, etc. etc. It would take major muscle by a major studio to try and get the rights to show the real Freddy, Jason, and Leatherface all together in one movie, so you can’t fault an indie film studio for taking some creative license.
As a whole, the movie has most of what makes a comedy horror film great. The entire cast puts on a great acting performance. It doesn’t matter if you’re dealing with the actor that had a non-speaking role as Jason Voorhees or the guy that got run over by a killer car and was never heard from in the film industry again. These are professionals, and they help keep the fine balance of a grisly horror movie and a ridiculously dark “this is your depressing life” comedy. These people have lived the best and the worst of being in the horror film industry, the red carpet Q & A’s and the ungratifying wait for a fan to pay them for an autograph or be mistaken for someone else at horror conventions. Maybe it was so real that they didn’t have to act. That’s a question to answer for another time.
The story itself has the air of Tucker & Dale vs. Evil because, like T&DvsE, the best parts of Smothered are the accidental deaths. They just strike you as funny. Here are some of the biggest, baddest demons in horror accidentally being impaled, or blown up, or having a heart attack and accidentally shooting themself in the head. Add that to Leatherface being portrayed as a gentle giant in real life, everyone being broke and depressed, and the deaths that have to do with the film’s title (wait for it…) and you have a horror film that is ridiculously hilarious in a great way. The film knows what it is, and plays along with the joke rather than take itself too seriously.
The only thing that doesn’t seem to work for Smothered is the editing of the film as a whole. Smothered isn’t your normal, linear horror film: people arrive, people die, the killer’s plot is unmasked. Smothered likes to jump around the timeline. This can be a great tool for a film to make the reader wonder what the fuck is going on and then set up the explanation in an “Oooooooh shiiiiiiiit” sort of way. In Smothered, storyline-jumps just become unnecessary and irritating.
I give Smothered 3 out of 5 hilarious horror icons.
Smothered will be hitting screens near you. We’ll keep you updated.