Theatre of Death 2001 Horror Movie Review
Horror movies Review
“Theatre of Death” is another of Anchor Bay’s well produced low-budget horror DVDs, though the film doesn’t quite deliver. Christopher Lee turns in another professional performance, this time as a violence obsessed theatre director suspected in a series of grisly Parisian murders. The photography combines bright colors with deep shadows to produce a fervid, over-ripe environment. The music kicks in loudly whenever needed to underline the action triply, and the story keeps jumping along.
It jumps, but it doesn’t make a lot of sense and there isn’t much connection between events. We’re rapidly introduced to most of the characters and the central situation, but then they stand still for so long and often, endlessly re-hashing the situation, that when something does happen, it seems to come out of the blue. Lee’s character disappears about half way through the movie, for example, and not only are we completely unprepared for the disappearance, it is staged so fast that if you blinked, you might miss it. One moment Lee is playing happily with his cat; the next, his theatrical troupe is mourning his loss.
The filmmaking doesn’t help. The hand held camera follows people around, or violent actions are momentarily frozen, or scenes are shot from self-consciously striking angles, or lighting setups rely on the blatant artifice made possible by the story’s theatrical setting. These stylish, post-French New Wave mannerisms are cleverly executed, but on top of a lumpy story that needs all the unifying it can get, they are more modish than helpful.
On the other hand, the violence is fairly understated, more talked about than depicted, which in one sense is praiseworthy, but also rather silly. After all, you don’t watch low-budget horror for clever understatement. Since the movie otherwise is both blatant and overwrought, shying away from the coup de grace just deprives it of much emotional impact. “Theatre of Death” ultimately feels a little unfocused, not quite certain where it wants to go. It produces the odd effect of making you think you’ve missed something, even though everything has been right on the surface.