Friday, 24 June 2011

Review : Cyrus-Mind of a Serial Killer

True events, my ass.


Mark Vadik


Mark Vadik (screenwriter)
CYRUS is getting a lot of positive feedback online, and its easy to see why. I disagree with many points other reviewers have made that its a fresh approach to the serial killer film, but it has a lot going for it. And despite this sort of movie being a dime a dozen, Mark Vadik's little genre piece does hold its own with the best of them. Mainly as it adheres to the holy trilogy of film making, namely casting, writing and directing, Its surprisingly successful with all three.

CYRUS tells the tale, through flashbacks and narration, of the making of a particularly nasty serial killer. Its a very convincing story, considering that with the amount of shit poor old Cyrus has to cope with throughout his life. If Rob Zombie can excuse his redneck Myers as being the Id's reaction to some punk kids bullying him as a boy and his mom showing her tits in a strip joint, then Vadiks Cyrus gets a free pass, straight up with no questions asked. The film opens with a short monologue from lil Cyrus' mother, and she has few kind words to say to her boy. Not to mention she's a prostitute who bangs her clients while he's sat there reading Winnie the Pooh or some shit. But that's only the beginning of this kids worries. Next up comes a children's home where the wardens like to get a little too close to the kids and, you see where this is going.

Things get worse as our doomed pal stumbles through life from one distaster to the next, until, of course, he reaches the point where he decides its business time. What makes Cryus unique is that not only does he find peace of mind in the slaughtering of his prey, he also earns a buck by butchering them and selling them as some mighty fine burgers in his roadside diner, sort of like a redneck Sweeney Todd, who sings a lot less, thank Christ.

You think your life is shit? Think again, pussy.
Vadik directs his film in a quietly confident manner. Its not flashy and it doesn't have to be. The story is interesting enough to carry the viewer forward, and his writing has all the fat trimmed off, leaving only whats necessary to the story structure and plot.  The narrative jumps from past to present, and occasionally back to Cryus' childhood, without ever losing the audiences attention, each scene gets straight to the point. With that said, I found the film a little too short. I would have happily spent more time with the three main characters, not least because of the performances he pulls out of his leads.The one point of contention I had with the writing was that its VERY predictable. You'll know where things are going long before the characters do, and as I did, you may ask yourself if they've never watched any horror movies before. Do these guys have a death wish or what? Luckily, this doesn't ruin the film, and may actually make it more fun as you watch things unfold.

Danielle Harris is luminous as ever, and thankfully, seems to have arisen from the ashes of her performance in HATCHET 2, phoenix like, to reclaim her crown as modern horrors scream queen. With her heartbreaking show in STAKELAND, and now this, she's definitely back on track. She doesn't have a great deal to do, but its always great seeing her on the screen. Lance Henrikson plays Lance Henrikson, and as always he's brilliant. Here he's a little more reserved than we're used to, and it suits his role just fine. As the narrator, (his character is being interviewed by Harris' reporter), his presence is all over the movie, and helps add gravitas and a few more shades of darkness. The standout here though is Brian Krause as they fully grown Cyrus. I haven't seen him around in a while, and he's thrown himself into this role with admirable lack of restraint. His Cyrus is very human, occasionally pitiable and often bat shit crazy. From calm to raving in the blink of eye, hes a very convincing predator. Theres some nasty shit going on here and Krause throws himself into it with gleeful abandon. Being the core of the film, I'd have liked to have seen more of him, but he does great with what time he's got and really sells the barely contained rage at the centre of the hate filled Cyrus.

One problem down, 2256 to go...
Vadik doesn't put a foot wrong here. Its a fine, modest little film that will please fans and non fans of the sub genre alike. It perhaps veers to close to the dreaded 'torture' style of horror on occasion, but never truly crosses the line into exploitation. Its violent and has some scenes I'd rather forget, but much of the horrific stuff is left to the viewers imagination. You'll have no problems with whats shown, but may have a few issues with whats implied. Being a new father, I could certainly have lived without the scenes with Cyrus' infant son, (especially a particularly vile breastfeeding venture), but hell, that's what horrors all about. If I don't like it that's my fucking problem. 

If your a card carrying fan of independent horror you'll be pleased with whats been achieved here, and if not, its a very accessible film and a good introduction to movie making on the other side of the fence. Theres little chance it'll steal your heart, but it may just turn your head as it passes by. Recommended.

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