Cut Her Out (Spavine) Review

Cut Her Out (Spavine) Review

Warning: spoilers ahead!

Tiffany Heath and Edgar Price’s Cut Her Out (originally titled Spavine) is a tale of the psychological effects of childhood abuse. In Cut Her Out we meet Darcy, a woman who is still being tortured by the memories of her mother, who horrifically abused her as a child. Darcy is being treated by her therapist Ryan, who suggests that Darcy might find it therapeutic to return to the scene of the crime: her childhood home. Now according to the IMDb synopsis written by Heath, Ryan is just Darcy’s therapist, but she’s trying to win his love-her motivation to go back to the place where she was so terribly abused. In the film, however, it comes across as though Ryan and Darcy have a romantic relationship already. The more subtle undertones discussed in Heath’s synopsis are not present in the film.

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Once they arrive at Darcy’s mother’s house, they find the home is already occupied by a feral child named Sam, who is assumed to have been a victim of Darcy’s (presumably) now-deceased mother. The main plotline continues to focus on Darcy’s recovery, which now involves Sam: the story is rather one-dimensional, which can make it difficult to stay interested. It seems like there was supposed to be a subplot. Ryan receives calls that hint at a stressful situation with the hospital or clinic that he works at, but these are never explained or expanded upon and thus add nothing to the story except the impression that Ryan’s supervisor’s don’t think the house visit was a good idea, and even that makes absolutely no difference. Ryan’s “therapy” mostly seems to involve forcing Darcy to relieve her horrible memories, and the house quickly goes from being a step meant to heal the fractured Darcy to looking like she and Ryan are playing house with Sam.

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Unfortunately, once inside the house, Darcy rapidly begins to deteriorate, while Sam seems to get better faster than you’d think a feral child left alone for who knows how long could, and he and Ryan develop a strong bond. Darcy, in the meantime, becomes isolated, set apart, and it’s not long before the twist, which doesn’t actually occur until nearly the end of the film, makes itself very apparent. Cut Her Out leans heavily on this twist, which can be guessed about halfway in, leaving little for the viewer to be interested in. There are some bloody flashbacks in which it’s not entirely clear what’s going on or how they particularly play into the story, as well as some gruesomely uncomfortable scenes involving Darcy and a knife, but little else otherwise.

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Once the twist does occur, some questions pop up about the rest of the film that hadn’t been there before with the deceased mother explanation. For instance, are we to assume that Darcy has a dissociative identity disorder, in which both an attacker and a victim are present? Whose house are they at? Is there more backstory with Sam? The vicious mother plotline actually was perfectly suitable for the story, and the twist kind of yanks the rug out from under it. Cut Her Out winds up feeling like two ends of two different movies: to continue the original plotline in a logical order, it needed a different ending, and to have the ending it has, it would’ve benefitted from a different beginning. In fact, it seemed to me from the synopsis that this movie was intended to be much more than it ended up being. Movies like these demonstrate the difficulty of translating words into an on-screen vision that is layered and coherent.

Darcy is played by Natalie Jones, whose portrayal of a woman in the midst of a psychotic break is believable, if a bit monotonous. Darcy seems to be nothing except psychotic and deluded. This leaves little room for anything but the end she gets: Darcy is entirely too damaged. This fact becomes clear early on, making the ending inevitable. The character of Ryan is played by Denton Blane Everett, whose therapist comes off as more of a cliche hack than anything else (for this, I cite moving in with a patient, leaving a psychotic patient alone with a child, ignoring signs of abuse of the child when said patient is the only other person around, and not insisting a patient this crazy be on medication, for starters). He’s more believable as a boyfriend desperate to heal Darcy than he is as a serious doctor, and this was disappointing. Sam is more believable as a neglected, abused boy than as a feral child.

The cinematography was reminiscent of Lars von Trier’s Antichrist: dark, unsettling, with dreary colors and a lodge-like home surrounded by nature as the central (and almost only) setting. The shots are clear and professional. The music too was well composed but at times somewhat overdramatic, making the scene at the end of the heart-pounding beats seem rather anti-climactic.

Overall, there are more skillfully made psychological horror movies. Cut Her Out is certainly not the worst contribution, but it simply careens headlong into disaster, revealing all to the viewer too quickly to ensure interest will be maintained.

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I'm a regular contributing writer to this website. I got into horror movies through the sci-fi monster films I watched with my dad as a kid (ex. Aliens) and the extreme amounts of zombie movies I spent a good portion of my college career watching. I absolutely love zombies (obviously), am a sucker for a low budget (or any) monster movie, and adore horror-comedy films. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley is one of my favorite books, and I'm still waiting for an actually decent film adaptation to bring that fantastic novel to life. Outside of my life as a horror fan, I'm a writer and editor with dreams of turning my screenplays into movies and a love of wine and murder mysteries.

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