Salem Horror Fest: Death Cast (2021)

Director: Bobby Marinelli

Running Time: 77 Minutes

Starring: Lacy Hartselle, Kyle Swanson, Hedy Nasser, Marvin Laviolette, Danielle Stratton, Andres Erickson

Opening with a disclaimer, the statement reads that the distributors are not responsible for any crimes potentially committed during the films production. It's an introduction which leaves audiences wondering what happened to warrant such a disclaimer to pass the blame? Viewers then witness audition tapes for six young actors, their names curiously distorted by the audio, before these hopefuls land roles in this experimental feature.

Shot documentary style, the actors must stick to rules in place as they arrive on-set. Without any crew present, they must remain entirely in-character while shooting a single uninterrupted take courtesy of positioned cameras and drones. A cinematic sheen appears on-screen once the shooting begins, to mirror the casts excitement for the opportunity, although that wears off soon enough.

The illusion is broken once somebody is murdered, and the cast's joy morphs into terror as they discover they're in a snuff film. As the life-or-death situation makes itself known, the real-horror conveyed is a nice contrast to the lacklustre acting these fictional actors were previously conveying. With the situation becoming more nightmarish, they're left worrying about what's to come.

Their worries are physically embodied by a knife-wielding man, who feels too much like a by-the-numbers threat. With his arrival, the feature drops its initial premise of actors in real peril for a rapid embracing of the final girl trope, becoming a lacklustre slasher with worse camera angles. A shame, as the initial idea was full of promise.

Death Cast screened as Salem Horror Fest, and is available to rent virtually.