FINAL CUT – Review by Leslie Combemale

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When multi-award winning Japanese low-budget indie horror-comedy mashup One Cut of the Dead, which cost around $25,000 dollars to make, was released in 2017, little did anyone expect it to make over $30-million at the box office. One Cut of the Dead, whose original name translates to Don’t Stop the Camera, is a prime example of the power of word of mouth and a 100% Rotten Tomatoes score.

Oscar-winning French director Michel Hazanavicius has now released a French-i-fied remake of Shin’ichirô Ueda’s cult hit. It’s titled Final Cut, and it stars L’Auberge Espagnole’s Romain Duris, and his leading lady from The Artist, Bérénice Bejo. There’s even a repeat performance by Yoshiko Takehara (aka Donguri) as an enthusiastic producer.

The premise is both simple and very complicated. Director Rémi (Romain Duris, definitely MVP of the film), is known for his productions being cheap and decent. He is approached by producers of a new channel, “Z”, to make a low-budget, one-take, 30-odd minute zombie movie. He accepts, and all hell, and accompanying zombies, break loose on the day of the shoot. That’s the simple part. The more complicated part is the layered storytelling, and how reality and fiction overlap. That’s all any critic should say if they want to keep their review spoiler-free.

The first 20 minutes or so of Final Cut will have many in the audience considering chucking in the towel, and either switching channels or exiting the theater. After all, how can a movie keep up the sort of no-holds-barred blood and gore fest for an hour and 52 minutes? Well, to continue being intentionally obtuse, it does, and it doesn’t. One thing is does do consistently is celebrate the value of collaboration in all its forms.

My husband was, as many who watch the film will be, asking the question of how it can sustain its mondo blood-and-gore energy, and wandered away before the half hour mark. As I informed him, that decision would be a colossal mistake. “Come back! This is awesome!.” I said, giggling. In Final Cut, not much is what it seems, and the film turns out to be quite a cinematic joy ride, right up to its last few moments. Of course, the mileage will vary for various low-budget film fans and lovers of horror, especially those who prefer films that take themselves seriously. Those wanting a diversion that is frothy, blood-soaked, and even a little warm and fuzzy, will find Final Cut worthwhile entertainment. They’ll also want to make sure and see what inspired Hazanavicius in the first place, because one should always show respect and due attention to the original.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars.

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Leslie Combemale

Leslie Combemale writes as Cinema Siren on her own website, CinemaSiren.com, and is a frequent contributor to MPA's TheCredits.org, where she interviews filmmakers above and below the line, with a focus on women and diverse voices. She is the Senior Contributor at AWFJ.org. Leslie is in her 9th year as producer and moderator of the influential "Women Rocking Hollywood" panel at San Diego Comic-Con. She is a world-renowned expert on cinema art and her film art gallery, ArtInsights, located near DC, has celebrated cinema art and artists for 30 years.