Tag Archives: independent film review

Killer Queen

Death Drop Gorgeous

by Rachel Willis

Don’t let the low-budget look of Death Drop Gorgeous deter you from watching this film because if you do, you’ll miss out on a hilarious, campy slasher film.

Recently dumped, Dwayne (Wayne Gonsalves) has returned to Providence and begged back his old job as a bartender at The Aut Haus. Rooming with best friend, Brian (Christopher Dalpe), Dwayne comes back to work just as a serial killer begins hunting the queens and patrons of The Aut Haus. Using the dating app, Poundr, the killer lures his victims to their doom.

Populated by drag queens and serious shade, this movie sends up some of the best of 80’s camp horror. Writers, directors and stars Dalpe, Michael J. Ahern and Brandon Perras manage a lot with a low budget. By doing double and triple duty with their cast and crew, they mine every bit of talent they can from what they have available.

That’s not to say the film doesn’t have its distractions. The camerawork and lighting are occasionally poor. However, there are also times when it perfectly sets the tone. Some of the actors, most of whom have no previous acting experience, are better than others. Michael McAdam is perfectly cast as gloriously named Gloria Hole, a queen who no longer commands the respect she used to. McAdam plays perfectly against younger, hotter queen Janet Fitness (Matthew Pidge). Their nasty back and forth offers some of the film’s stand-out moments.

A few scenes toward the beginning of the film are a bit longer than necessary. But the pace picks up in the second act as more and more people are dispatched in gruesome ways. You’ll probably never look at a meat grinder the same again.

Social commentary is delivered via catty banter and barroom brawls. The culture surrounding Dwayne and Brian is quick to deride certain qualities. One man goes so far as to say Brian is “too fem” and that he doesn’t date “blacks” in reference to Dwayne. Gloria Hole is shamed simply for aging. This is deeper content than one might expect from a campy slasher flick, but it works.

The writers and the actors camp it up for all its worth, and it makes Death Drop Gorgeous a cut above many films benefiting from a bigger budget.

Best Served Cold


by Brandon Thomas

Revenge tales are a messy affair. Forget the buckets of blood you’re liable to wade through (metaphorically – of course). No, vengeance cinema revels in discomfort – the more emotionally taxing, the better. Put all of that together in a two-and-a-half-hour movie, and you’ve got something that’s pretty hard to sit through.

That’s what director John Balazs’s film Rage delivers.

Noah (Matt Theo) and Madeline’s (Hayley Beveridge) marriage is already on shaky ground when we meet them. Petty grievances populate their interactions, and the physical component of their relationship is all but forgotten. Their bond is forever fractured when a violent home invasion leaves Noah comatose, Madeline traumatized, and another family member dead. As the two begin to pick up the pieces, the realization that one of their attackers is still out there spurs them into irrational action. 

There’s no shying away from the brutality of violence here. There’s no celebration of it either. Gratuitous isn’t quite the right a word to describe anything in Rage. The violence is meant to make us wince and squirm, not cheer and pump our fists. 

While the ferocity comes in short bursts, the emotional impact is given far more time to breathe. The trauma suffered by Noah and Madeline takes up the bulk of the film’s running time, and it’s here where the real pain is inflicted. Madeline’s near-catatonic state in the latter half of the film is more disturbing than any physical scar could be. 

Rage occasionally abandons Noah and Madeline’s point of view to follow the detective (Richard Norton from Mad Max: Fury Road) working their case. Focusing on the police procedural side of the story takes away some of the urgency around the couple’s crumbling relationship, and, at times, threatens to stop the film dead. As the tension and drama surrounding Noah and Madeline’s actions increase later in the film, it only goes to highlight how unnecessary the police point of view ultimately is. 

Rage isn’t the first film to comment on the never-ending cycle of violence that vengeance can create. It is, however, one of the few films to spend more than a fleeting moment on the emotional ramifications of random brutality.