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Thursday, March 19, 2020

Review: A Beginner’s Guide To Snuff

Director: Mitchell Altieri
Screenplay: Mitchell Altieri, Phil Flores, Cory Knauf, and Adam Weis 
Year: 2017

Brothers Dresden and Dominic, tired of their actual situation, decide to try their luck in the world of cinema with a horror movie with the expectation of becoming famous. In the process of choosing the protagonist for their movie, they are unable to find someone that impresses them, for which they decide to kidnap one of the actresses and record it to make it be as realistic as possible. While they carry out their plan, things spiral out of control and the situation turns against them in the worst way possible.

The actress that the brothers choose for their movie that simulates a snuff movie ends up being much more dangerous than they expected and soon the brothers become the victims of the story. Once the actress takes control of the situation, the movie adopts a style that takes it close to the torture porn, but it never leaves the humor behind. Early scenes reveal a series of murders where men are found dead with their penises cut off and the series of events that follow make it easy to make the association and understand how this is all connected.

Since the first moment, “A Beginner’s Guide To Snuff” makes it clear that this is not a movie to be taken too seriously, but rather one to sit and enjoy for what it is: an over-the-top dark comedy. The plot is simple and predictable, but it is only used to present absurd situations, which are the real strength of the movie. The director Mitchell Altieri (“The Hamiltons”) who co-writes the script with Cory Knauf (“The Thompsons”), Adam Weis (“Sweet Insanity”) and his partner with whom he shares the Butcher Brothers name Phil Flores (“The Violent Kind”) is conscious of the type of movie they are all trying to present and always follow the same line. 

A great deal of what makes the humor of this movie work is the wonderful job done in the acting. Brothers Dresden and Dominic, interpreted by Joey Kern (“Cabin Fever”) and Luke Edwards (“Jeepers Creepers 2”) show great chemistry among them that submerges the viewer into their dynamics and you don’t doubt for a moment that they are brothers. However, it is Bree Williamson (“Haven”) as actress Jennifer who does the best job acting, and in parts reminded me of the work that Samara Weaving has been doing in horror cinema, which is not a small thing.

It is also evident that the people involved in this movie are horror movie fans making a movie for horror fans, shown in the number of references they use about movies in this genre and how the movie uses some genre clichés in an exaggerated fashion. The meta-reference of a movie inside a movie is used in a great way, especially when the brothers discuss the parts of the movie they will be recording, and it ends up happening just as they say but with them as victims. 

“A Beginner’s Guide To Snuff” is a fun dark comedy that bets more on its blend of comedy and horror than on the coherence of its story and is in this amalgam of over-the-top moments where it really shines. The humor is never left behind, even in the bloodier and more tense scenes and is always effective, in part because of a great job from the cast. “A Beginner’s Guide To Snuff” ends up being surprisingly entertaining from beginning to end.

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