Auteur (2014) d. Cameron Romero (USA)
Filmmaker Jack Humphreys (B.J. Hendricks), looking to make a mark in Tinseltown, seizes his opportunity when a renowned horror director, Charlie Buckwald (Ian Hutton), suddenly vanishes with the only copy of his latest feature, Demonic. As Jack interviews the film's former cast and crew for what he hopes will be his calling card documentary, the mystery deepens; seems Charlie was messing with strange voodoo indeed, and the movie - and its female lead (Madeline Merritt) - may now be infused with something truly unholy.
At first glance, one wonders if Cameron "son of George" Romero's latest effort is actually an elaborate hoax or if his standards are really this low. What could have been a potentially entertaining if derivative short film is insanely padded and ill-advised at every turn, with posturing in place of performances and repetitious ramblings standing in for plot and dialogue.
The casting is ridiculous to the point of depressing, from Tom Sizemore's freewheeling cameo as himself to the too-young Hutton as our "legendary" director in question to Merritt's minimal wattage as the "hottest new actress in town" and so on. (As Demonic's smokin' editor, Eli Jane's gratuitous bikini shot late in the film, while not unwelcome, seems bizarre in context and self-serving in practice.)
And then there's producer/star Hendricks, whose undeniably natural quality in front of the camera doesn't necessarily translate into an empathetic character, or a character of any stripe. He's just kind of there, rambling along with zero stakes and frat guy cadences, calling to mind a Not-Quite-As-Good Will Hunting.
|"Okay, Cameron, I got this face..."|
|"...and this one. Which one do you want?"|
He's supposed to be the engine that drives the story, but since everything is stuck in low gear (how else are we going to stretch this anemic idea out to 75 minutes?), he's never given an opportunity to do anything but hunker along and improvise badly when the occasion calls for it. Which it does. A lot. (Even sadder when a quick glance at the credits reveals three, count 'em, credited screenwriters.)
|"Try this face."|
Romero's indolence doesn't stop with his casting or choice of scripts; the endless stock helicopter shots and recycled sequences are indicative of a desire to make a no-budget film seem larger without bothering to do it in a creative fashion.
|"Bro, what if we both do this face?" "Hey, that's pretty good."|
Then there's the narrative framing device, which starts off as a faux documentary . . . and then inexplicably employs random flashback sequences. Are these supposed to be staged re-enactments, as performed by the very characters themselves? A neat trick, considering several of them are supposedly dead.
I've already clearly put more thought into this than anyone directly involved. If not for the director's lineage (Romerosploitation™) and Sizemore's seeming willingness to lend his name to anything these days (30 screen credits in the last two years?!?), Auteur would have never reached beyond the cast and crew's immediate social circles and a few indiscriminate YouTube searches. But it has, so buyer beware. The tagline is "Some stories are better left BURIED," and never has that been more true. This is the kind of indie horror that gives indie horror a bad name.
|"Can you guys hurry it up? I got three other movies to shoot today."|
Auteur is available now on DVD from MVD Entertainment and can be ordered HERE:
|AC at the 1-hour mark.|