The Back Room (2010)
Directed by Tim Stover
You'd think Las Vegas would be a perfect place to make grindhouse movie. Strip away the glitz and glamour of Vegas and dig into the underbelly and it might be grimy and filthy and fucked up.
But somehow whenever there is a horror movie that takes place in Vegas, it feels like filmmakers miss the point and never use Vegas to its potential. That's what I thought when I watched this grindhouse homage The Back Room. It's in the same vain of the most famous serial killer exploitation film shot in Vegas Nick Palumbo's Murder Set Pieces.
They are eerily similar and almost run the same in some cases. The funny thing is I didn't like MSP when I saw it. It seemed kinda pointless, boring and not as shocking as you'd think it would be. And that's what I thought of The Back Room as well. It was supposedly "banned" from the US which might be a hook to get you to see it because it might be "too shocking". But at the end of the day, it's a low budget bait and switch propaganda shockfest that says I'm blood drenched insanity when its more of an 70 minute death metal music video instead.
A man is haunted by his nightmares to the point he goes into a downward spiral to do anything that would appease this figure in his dreams. The audience gets to see what goes on insides of his head. It's a film that makes one wonder who the quiet neighbor living next to him really is. What would you do to make the nightmares go away?
And death metal music video it is. William is our Dexter who seems to be clearly insane as he dreams of a ghostly woman who tells him to kill. And so he kills and kills and kills. He kills the girl that likes him, a hitchhiker, a prostitute and others. Throughout the movie, we can hear him narrate what's going inside his head. He doesn't want to kill these women but he's manipulated to.
So it goes.
The Back Room is clearly a low budget affair that tries all the tricks of being an grindhouse movie. It has the old timey Tarantino/Rodriguez feature presentation intro, staticky lines, weird VHS saturation and a frenetic editing metal pounding to it.
My first gripe is that the tagline of "A modern take on the grindhouse horror" is cool and all but the whole point of the disclaimers, crappy editing and the numerous cigaratte burns and staticky lines is that's just how it was back in the 70s and 80s. If you put that in to make it feel grindhousey, setting it in modern times feels weird...y know? You really don't need that crap. I mean its not like your filming your movie with a video camcorder right? Shit, it was probably edited on a Mac.
You can be grindhouse with your themes and your splatter and nudity. No need for the gimmicks.
The splatter and gore in The Back Room is adequate. Lots of cliched kills for the gorehound. You know, spitting up blood, beatened heads and sliced hands and so forth. Yawn. I've seen worse gore in a PETA video.
The acting is mediocre and filled with lots of film noir narrating by our Dexter. The most WTF Moment has gotta be that in one scene where our serial killer is on the prowl, the death metal soundtrack is playing in the background. I couldn't hear a word between the killer and the killee during their conversation. Sure, you gotta get the music in there but not in what's suppose to be a tension filled scene.
Lots of flashbacks are also melded into the flick that were just rehash scenes from things we saw 3 minutes ago. I know it was for dreamlike effect but cmon now, that's just being lazy. In all honesty, it was one big death metal music video instead of a coherent grindhouse movie.
Even the women victims who could be relied on to fill that nudity staple was lacking. I mean I'm sure for a few chips and a all you can eat buffet, a few hot looking Vegas strippers would be in a horror movie.
Let me just say I appreciated the effort to make a modern day exploitation movie filled with serial killer wickedness, nudity and splatter. From talking to a lot of independent and indie horror filmmakers, it's an endeavor you go into and do your best at. Then you have some run of the mill horror blog say yucky things about it, well you gotta take your lumps. Tim Stover and his crew do the best they can but at the end of the day, they were a few years late on this concept.
With Murder Set Pieces having already getting the notoriety of a Vegas serial killer flick, it's kinda hard to see a movie in the same subgenre and not compare it. Even though I didn't like MSP, it had its moments, was original when it came out and was bloody awesmoerific.
The Back Room is MSP's little brother copying what big brother already did. Sorry little bro. Time to grow up and take a different path.
Slice and dice
Blood drenched splatter
Etc. Etc. Etc.
Beer goggle boobage
The soundtrack plays throughout the entire movie
The Jaded Viewer's Final Prognosis
The film is still available in Canada. Let's just say if your eager to see every serial killer made, check out The Back Room. It does have a few crazy visuals that stick in my mind like a blood soaked tub filled with naked women and the visual of the aptly titled back room was a trip and half.
Hopefully, in Stover's next film he'll take Vegas and it's potential into a new horror frontier.
Check out the trailer below.