It’s certainly difficult for me to fault a film that within the first five minutes of the film you see bare breasts and an ax murder by a masked killer. The folks behind Darkrider Studios definitely know which side their bread is buttered with their debut feature film Lethal Obsession. A series of killings seem to befall the online models of ObessionCam.com, one by one being hacked apart, choked, and snuffed out. The website caters live shows that seem to be interrupted with home invasions and murder, sending the number of subscribers through the roof. The police don’t seem to have much of a lead, except that this killer is educated enough to cover their tracks and not leave behind any evidence. A seasoned detective with issues of his own tries to put the pieces of it all together, usually one step behind the next bloody victim. That and the killer looks like the little sister of Troma’s Sgt. Kabuki Man, donned in all black.
There’s not too much to say, as this is film is almost a copy of copy. It’s a horror film made by horror fans, and they’re so eager to craft their own story that they leave behind many of the elements necessary to make it succeed. It seems everyone has their own agenda and equal time isn’t garnished for these elements to come alive, but you have to pick your battles with indie horror. It’s not to say that there isn’t a degree of originality attached to the project, but it doesn’t necessarily breathe new life into the genre. Instead it’s a merit deserving execution in producing the narrative structure of other successful cinematic counterparts.
The acting is about on par with anything you’d see on MTV original programming nowadays. It’s not exactly mindless, but if you lose interest it’s not because you’re being intellectually over-stimulated. Sure there are struggles with bringing the dialogue to life and giving it a unique voice from character to character, but a cohesive narrative is delivered. The men look like blue collar gents looking for their big break and the women definitely fill in the roles of cam girls or at least what you’d expect. From start to finish it’s a movie in every sense, one raised with love by those involved and sent into the world to be harshly judged. There’s a holy trinity to independent film making; cheap, fast and good. Choose wisely, because when you step on set you can only have two. Elizabeth Waters played by Kitsie Duncan stands as the closest thing to as a villain, the brains behind ObsessionCams.com. Ballsy and all business, the web cam murders are only a concern to Ms. Waters if it affects business. If a man filled this role you’d probably root for the killer to pay them a visit, but here you almost wonder what other bones about the female run adult entertainment business are there left to dig up. Walter and Reed are two roommates meant to balance the equation on screen. Walter got fucked over by an ex-girlfriend Gina and likes to stay in his room looking at porn and cam girls. Reed cares enough for Walter to try and pull him out of this slump, but is met with much resistance. This relationship and the connection to anyone else in the film dangle by a thread of believability, only meant to stitch together the final frames of the film.
For a horror movie the gore isn’t top rate, but it’s enough to get the point across. Think a slight more believability than H.G. Lewis’ Blood Feastand you get the idea. Each kill is different, I’m assuming to match the different fetishes each model would service through their cam portals. The costume design for the killer is pretty simple; a cheap Halloween mask, and an all black wardrobe, which includes fishnets and heels. The killer always strikes when the show is live on the Interwebs offering an enhanced sense of voyeurism as we peek into the killer’s twisted world. Why they’re doing that is revealed in a pseudo twist ending, and I’m not about to start pooping out spoilers yet. I was curious what these film makers were striving for against other computer related horror movies like Strangeland, Untraceable, or Fear Dot Com. Maybe they’d even amp up a Chris Hansen kind of vibe like Hard Candy. I’ll hand it to Darkrider for this, they kept it simple. Kill everybody. That’s it. Show some boobs, spill some blood, and save room for a sequel. You’re never bogged down in CSI style computer montages and no one has to hack into a mainframe or other suitable nonsense. Though a proper mythology isn’t inherently structured here for the killer or their motives, this is about the closest to 80s style VHS horror as you could find and forget. Here you’re guaranteed pointless violence delivered by a masked killer, a questionable soundtrack, gratuitous nudity, cheap gore, and more face-palming for the audience than a night out with Rick James. Collectively assembled you’ll find plenty of good ideas that could seem to fit together, though not intrinsically executed. The sets and locations are all one dimensional, just offices and bedrooms. You’d almost mistake it for something from the Spice Channel if the soundtrack had a funkier bass line. Say it out loud, “Brown chicken, brown cow.” And repeat. I can respect the choice for being frugal with locations; this is a fundamental key for slimming down a budget in horror movies. James Wan’s Saw was two men chained up in bathroom, Lethal Obsession just needs to keep half naked women near computers.
The main lesson to walk away from this film is one of encouragement. Lethal Obsession is proof positive that you should be making your own damn movie and you should be doing it now. Grab a camera, call up that attractive female that always says she wanted to be an actress (or just grab her ugly friend, it doesn’t really matter), dye a bottle of Karo syrup red and go to town. Honestly you could pick this film apart at the seams and hold a light up to each individual flaw with a sanctimonious opinion that you could do better, but this film isn’t competing with anything at the multiplex, it just wants to get noticed. And if you really can do better, shut up and prove it. Lethal Obsessiondelivers a film with a budget less than most used cars with a crew the size of a pick-up game of basketball, meaning just simply getting noticed could generate enough return for their future endeavors. If Hollywood was Prom, heed my advice that the prettiest and flashiest ones aren’t always the most fun at the dance. That and you can’t go looking for love when it was meant to be a one night stand. That’s cinematically speaking, of course. The DVD includes trailers, short films, a Blooper Reel, Behind the Scenes photos, an Alternative ending and even suggestions for turning your home viewing into a proper drinking game. A round of applause goes to the good folks that know the demographic of their target audience. And believe me, excessive drinking is the best way to go at it with this romp.
All in all would I recommend this film? Well, how drunk are you?