TIFF ’14 Review: The Editor is ‘a movie insider’s playground’

Film critic Thom Ernst says the film is a 'perfect parody of an Italian horror sub-genre,' but wonders if its premise is a little too niche, even for movie buffs.
ThomErnst_by_NickKozak_edited-1

The Editor is a triumph of mimicry and style. Technically, it’s a perfect parody of an Italian horror sub-genre from the ’70s known as giallo. Giallo – a nod to Italian pulp-fiction paperback novels – is a term frequently used when referring to the films of Dario Argentio, Mario Brava and Lucio Fulci. (Argentio even made a film in 2009 called Giallo). 

Filmmakers Adam Brooks and Matthew Kennedy have earned a solid reputation for their seamless (and comedic) recreation of ’80s pulp cinema.  With The Editor they have styled a frame-by-frame textbook recreation that catches every nuance of the genre from the synthesized soundtrack, the 80s wardrobe, to the disconnected voice-overs. They even get the poster right.

But The Editor is a movie insider’s playground bound to be more admired than it is enjoyed. It’s unlikely that an audience unfamiliar with the giallo style and sensibilities is going to feel in on the joke. Even an audience well-versed in Italian horror cinema and able to appreciate, even marvel, at its accuracy might find the exercise tiresome within the first 20 minutes.

The story:  Rey Cisco is a once-celebrated film editor who, after suffering an unfortunate splicing accident, is left with only the use of his left hand. When a series of grisly murders starts plaguing the cast and crew of the movie he’s working on, suspicions turn to Rey.  That’s enough to intrigue any horror film fan but Brooks and Kennedy let the story to slip away from them and get buried beneath the film’s esthetics.

The Editor is unquestionably sincere to its original source. But it redundant to parody a film that is, even if unintentionally, already a self-parody. A bang-on imitation is still just an imitation and nowhere near as fun as revisiting the actual films like Suspira (1977) or Planet of the Vampires (1965).

Behind the film is the collective Astron-6 who have a solid following having already made similar genre-based comedies, Father’s Day and Manborg.  On the reputation of the collective, and the never-ending interest in horror films, The Editor is likely to do well – particularly among a genre-film fan base.  And though it’s impossible to predict what will and what won’t gain cult status, the nature of The Editor’s violence and humour give is a good shot at becoming a midnight screening favourite.