4.5 Stars
Year Released: 2008
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 80 minutes
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This version of “Amateur Porn Star Killer 2″ isn’t a simple rehash of the “snuff” film, though it still has all the elements of that film — a “real” killing, graphic sex, and all of it shot on a hand-held. So what makes it different? This time around much of it is in color, there is a soundtrack, and it features footage from the past crimes of the killer (Shane Ryan), though the focus is on the latest victim (Kai Lanette). It’s not a “movie” in the traditional sense of narration and story arc, however.

The film spends a good amount of time in the beginning focusing on random females at the beach and whatnot. It actually felt like a less cohesive Jess Franco film for a while and that worked well to set the mood. When people see the finished DVD release, which will have both the “snuff” and “film” version, it’s my guess that most of them will watch the “snuff” version first and then go into the “movie” version kind of knowing what to expect. The opening throws that expectation off a little bit, though, and so does the footage of some of the old crimes, which are extremely nasty.

As if the soundtrack and style weren’t enough to set this film apart from the others, the additional background information in many ways makes this more disturbing than those films, and it doesn’t feel any less realistic. It’s almost as if someone from the crime lab that examined these videos decided to make an art film that borders on killer worship, with an ending that pays kind of a sad tribute to the victim of the first film. If the first film bothered you, and the “snuff” version of the sequel got under your skin, this may push you over the edge.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I’ve been a fan of the first film since day one and have stood behind the director every step of the way in defending it. I wrote an essay on it that was supposed to be included with the DVD, but never made it in (for reasons best not to go into), and I wrote the material that appears on sequel’s DVD box. On this film, Ryan also gives me a thanks in the final credits. That in no way skewed my view of this film, however. In fact, when I was given a very rough cut of it, I popped it into the VCR fully expecting to hate it; the other films played so perfectly that I thought tinkering with the formula would ruin a good thing. The rough version of the “movie” proved interesting, but I wasn’t getting my hopes up until I saw the completed film.

The final cut left me more than satisfied.

As mentioned earlier, the movie version not only turned out to be more disturbing than the other films, it’s also easier to watch, which is almost an impossible feat to pull off when you think about it. Something more disturbing than supposedly real snuff films, but less taxing to watch? How is that possible?

The snuff films have very basic plots — a man sweet talking a woman with whom he has sex with and kills — which works extremely well for what the director is trying to do. The first film and the “snuff” version of the sequel require a very strong will to sit through, however. They aren’t casual viewing material, and they aren’t meant to be enjoyed the same way as something like “Scream.” They are experiences you put yourself through so that you can see what truly dangerous filmmaking can achieve; they feel real every step of the way. The “movie” version still keeps the spirit of those films intact, but all the added elements, while not forming anything like a standard narrative, make it a sick and very twisted labor of love. It messes with your head, and will leave you questioning the boundaries of entertainment and art.

As with the other films, there are going to be people who hate it either based purely on the idea or because it isn’t gory. (There are filmmakers, quite a few of them actually, who equate blood and gore with realism and disturbance. The effect is usually the exact opposite.) This version of the sequel may also isolate the people who championed the other films. You have to respect an artist who is willing to do that to an audience which was hard to attract in the first place. (Speaking solely for myself, I have taken so much grief over giving the first film a positive review that I can’t imagine what the director has gone through.) Not only has Ryan taken his vision to a new place, but he’s set the bar even higher for anyone who comes along after him (and perhaps even for himself, as the third film that is due out later this year may not be able to compete with this one).

People are also going to try and copy and top it, but my guess is that they will fail in the most miserable of ways. Ryan comes to this with a fresh eye that hasn’t been tainted by years of underground horror films and the like, and he’s created something new because of that. It’s something that can’t be ignored, and nor should it be.

There really is no excuse for not getting this if you are interested in Hell Cinema and can appreciate the need for an artist to push boundaries and explore the darker side of life. This is the real deal. This is what happens when you take art and entertainment one step further than it should ever be taken … and the results are amazing.

Posted on May 13, 2008 in Reviews by

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