Why is it so many films feature a reunion of “old friends” who pretty obviously can’t stand each other? The Razing at least acknowledges that fact in one of its first lines of dialogue. “In many parts of the world, this would be a form of torture, being stuck in a room full of people you hate. How long are we going to keep doing this?”
We, in this case, consists of Cory (Jack Wooten, Fallen Angel), and his wife Ellen (Laura Sampson Hemingway, Crossroad of America, Inscriptions), Ray (Logan Paul Prince) and his girlfriend Claire (Mia Heavner), Milo (Dawson Mullen, They Don’t Cast Shadows), and Lincoln (Nicholas Tene, Don Peyote, Apocalypsis). We aren’t sure just who they are, but judging by the surroundings we can tell they are seriously rich.
By ten minutes into The Razing just how dysfunctional this group is has become glaringly obvious. And when Claire asks the obvious question of why they meet every year, Cory’s response, jumping up, ringing a bell, and being a condescending prick it’s equally obvious this is going to b a long night for all concerned.
Another thing that’s obvious right from the start is that, despite a plot that has the elements we’ve come to expect from a slasher, The Razing is not a typical horror film. It opens with distorted visuals and sounds, as though we’re seeing things through the eyes of someone who’s tripping. And given later events that might well be the case.
Beyond that, directors and frequent collaborators Paul Erskine and J. Arcane, who also wrote The Razing, have a fondness for odd camera angles, deliberately shifting scenes in and out of focus and even using split-screen. Combined with a classical-sounding score it gives the film a very pronounced artsy feel.
While the film takes place almost entirely in one apartment, and much of that in one room of it, the title, The Razing, refers to something happening beyond its walls. Something tatt as in The Crazies or The Sadness is causing people to brutally kill each other for no apparent reason. But our characters are more concerned with their own issues and some pact they made when they were younger, the nature of which is gradually revealed via dialogue and flashbacks as the film goes on.
Of course, as in any film like this, they can’t keep the problem shut out, and eventually The Razing finds its way into their sanctuary. But that’s nearly an hour into the film’s hundred and ten minute runtime and my patience was about at an end. I don’t mind a slow burn but this is so slow at times I wondered if the fuse had even been lit. Combined with the film’s extremely unlikable characters it made for very rough going.
The Razing is elevated horror for people who think Hereditary and Midsommar are exploitation films. It’s heavy on philosophical dialogue, the ramifications of our actions, and many other weighty topics. Scares however are much harder to come by, as is any real concern if the characters, with the exception of Clare, live or die.
I know there is an audience for films like The Razing but I’m not it. I like my horror to have scares and at least a couple of decent characters. Between the obnoxious, shouty characters and the distorted sound and visuals, the effect was more like dropping acid at a bad party than watching a horror movie. But then again, this whole thing might have been one of the character’s bad trips, either way, it’s a bummer man.
I’m not sure what the release plans, if any, for The Razing are. You can keep an eye on the Pacific Future Films’ website for announcements of festival showings, a distribution deal, etc. In the meantime, you can head on over to FilmTagger for some viewing suggestions.