Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Peelers is as Satisfying as a Lap Dance: A Film Review

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*full disclosure: an online screener of this film was provided by Uncork'd Entertainment.

Director: Sevé Schelenz.

Writers: Lisa DeVita and Sevé Schelenz.

Cast: Wren Walker, Caz Odin Darko, Madison J. Loos, Cameron Dent and Al Dales.

Movie reviews can serve various functions. Sometimes, they can help get more seats filled at the movie theatres. Sometimes, they can save people a bit of time. In the case of Peelers, they can serve as a warning; do not see this film! Unfortunately, the screenplay, from first time screenwriter Lisa Devita, is mostly a miss as one might expect. As well, a portion of the cast are also just as inexperienced. Thus, Peelers misses a lot of its marks, especially in the character and plot department areas. The music, from composer Vincent Mai, which will be discussed first, is often on point. However, almost every other filmmaking element is a swing and a miss. Peelers is one zombie film than is rotting at its screenwriting core.

The central plotline is simple enough. Blue Jean (Wren Walker) is selling her strip club to a greedy corporatist. Damn, those evil corporatists! You know the ones, the folks who keep everyone working and with a roof over their heads. In Peelers, Chromagnum (Al Dales) wants to buy Blue Jean's bar, for the crude beneath. A batch of light oil is ready to be extracted. But, this crude has a strange biological element within. Those it contacts to turn into hideous killers. Yes, it is another zombie film! Meanwhile, the subplots are composed of: a romantic interest between the owner and a bouncer, a pregnant stripper (no maternity leave?) and a mother/son or sister/brother dynamic? The subplots add little to this going-down-with-the-ship screenplay.

It might be best to start with the film's strong point, its music. Composer Vincent Mai has chosen musical compositions that fit well with the scenes onscreen. The film begins with Blue Foundation's "Eyes on Fire." The sultry lyrics, from singer Kirstine Stubbe Teglbjærg, synch' up well with the sexy images. The reddish imagery and soft lines dance well together. Other song choices and instrumentals suit the film's continuously changing tones. Sombre musical scores emphasize the loss of another character. Or, the pitch and delivery pick up in more action oriented scenes. Mai knows how to blend music with imagery, effectively.

From the beautiful and evocative intro' sequence, it is all downhill from here. The characters are uninteresting or one-dimensional, while the acting is equally artificial. The protagonist Blue Jean larps as a man through much of the film. Gone are the days when femininity was enough. Now, characters have to be masculine, in order to be taken seriously, right? No, femininity is enough if the character is written well. Also, few of the characters show any nobility. Blue Jean never rescues or saves any of her friends. None of the character deaths really affect her, though. They will affect you even less. Other characters, like the bouncer or the many strippers, are also flat. They are just their to serve the kill count. The interactions and interplay between the characters are artificial to the point of laughability. A photograph exchange of the recently deceased Remy (Caz Odin Darko) between Blue Jean and Logan (Madison J. Loos) is groan worthy. How did Remy show courage, in the film (or any virtue at all)? He didn't and his death caused barely a ripple of emotion, for this viewer. Still, there are many more false intimacies to come.

The major failure of the film came from its script. Screenplay artist Lisa Devita's first script lacks depth, expectedly so. It would take a miracle for a first time writer to manage anything else. Scriptwriting is a practiced art and Devita requires more experience in the dark arts of authorship. What do her characters stand for? Nothing. What do they fall for? One character risks his life for love. But, a romance between a bouncer and a strip club owner could only be borne in hell and lead to destruction. It might have been for the best that this pairing bled out. Also, Devita cannot find a consistent tone for the film. Sometimes, she reaches for comedy and sometimes she reaches for horror. But, she grasps neither with any competence. Then, a number of sorrowful scenes are thrown in the mix. A script can be difficult to write with one tone and with at least three separate tones to consider, it is impossible to generate tonal and emotional cohesion. The major failing of Peelers comes from its mish-mash of a screenplay, in which Devita stretches to get too much right.

Peelers has been riding the film festival circuit for at least a year, now. It is slated to show through Video-on-demand, in the United States, this March. But, you will want to sit this zombie mash-up out. Musical tones and compositions are consistently well done. All other film elements are less exceptional. The film lacks a unifying hero, or heroine. Blue Jean is just too cliched and overly-masculine to offer any authenticity. More softness could have been introduced, with this character, to contrast the violent hardness. Other, minor characters are not even worth mentioning, again. The moral message and more core are absent, unless you find the tried-and-true greedy corporatist interesting. Interactions between characters are often eye-rollingly blasé, or poorly set-up. Meanwhile, the film struggles to find a reason for being; it is rarely entertaining and definitely not informative. Peelers is a strikeout on too many levels to recommend.

Overall: 6 out of 10.

A trailer for Peelers can be found here: A Second Trailer for Peelers

The film's homepage: The Peelers' Official Website

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