That's A Wrap (2023)

Director: Marcel Walz

Running Time: 94 Minutes

Starring: Cerina Vincent, Monique T.Parent, Sarah French, Gigi Gustin, Dave Sheridan, Robert Donavan

Within a darkened film studio, Alexis (Cerina Vincent) readies herself for a film premiere only to receive a text indicating that her date has stood her up. She intends to leave the darkened film studio, choosing to skip the film's wrap party as her character only appears in the opening *wink, wink*. Music plays as she realizes the studio also contains a mysterious figure wearing the killer's costume, and her film role soon becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Declaring his latest film to be everything he wants to say as a filmmaker, it is an understatement to say director Mason Maestro (Robert Donavan) is pleased with his feature. As the key players arrive at the wrap party, introduced in the style of a commercial promoting the latest dolls on-sale, it becomes apparent that somebody dressed as the film's slasher is intent on staging their own kills. As the cast disappear one by one, the night's true purpose soon becomes clear.

Working with screenwriters Joe Knetter and Robert L. Lucas, director Marcel Walz crafts a giallo-inspired tale about the difficulties of independent filmmaking. This is observed through a wrap party hosted by an egotistical director, openly disregarding inviting crew members because he considers himself to be the most important element. The potential is there for a look at the industry as razor-sharp as the murderous utensils, yet the execution falls flat in both regards.

Undoing the well-crafted kills are how they are shot, with a potentially impressive instance of head-trauma becoming obscured by the unfortunate editing. This is particularly crushing during a phallic instance, as what should be a shocking moment is sadly deflated by the perfunctory way it is delivered. The same can be said of the prevalent meta-humour, which feels like somebody playing with a brand-new toy without glancing at the instructions, as the absent sense of timing leaves the nods to resemble repeated jabs in the ribs.

Considering how many characters the film contains, it is astounding how few receive characterization. Full-body nudity of women takes priority, with the assumption that it is enough to have the character named Stoney be a stoner, when it just leaves the kills to hold little impact amidst the struggle to recall most character names. The most unfortunate moment comes during a lingering scene of self-pleasure before paying homage to the shower scene from Psycho, as viewers are reminded of why that iconic sequence is a masterclass of editing, implied violence, and terror by showing a scene which took the wrong lessons from it.

When it is time to unveil the killer, the biggest surprise comes in the drawn-out monologue explaining the motivations. There is an attempt to include commentary regarding how the industry treated women across different generations, yet it feels hollow considering how this film already treated its female characters. As presented, it feels like an attempt at relevancy which pads out the runtime until the infuriating resolution.

That's A Wrap is available on Digital Platforms in the U.S. from 25th August. It will make its International Premiere at Frightfest 2023 on 25th August at 10:45pm