Directed by: #AndreaMazzucca
Indie Film Review by #NathanialEker
From the minute Splatter Skunk begins, to the end of its unrelenting ninety-minute run time, one question permeates; ‘why Splatter Skunk?’ The only viable reason for the baffling title is that after watching, you indeed feel as though you’ve had a putrid smelling animal splattered over you. Or, at the very least, you’ll feel that you’ve wasted an hour and a half of your life.
This bizarre, tonal rollercoaster is difficult to generically define. On the surface it seems to be a basic ‘monkey’s paw’ parable, of a satanic resurrection gone wrong (when do they go right?). However, the characters presented are so far removed from the realms of reasonable human behaviour that it becomes impossible to empathise or even understand the plight of a single player. Take for example, co-lead Alessio, portrayed by Andrea Malkavian. His character development includes smoking weed and hissing at people, before, with zero foreshadowing, he decides that thinning out the population via mass murder is a good shout. Not one character, nor their dialogue are properly formed or thought out, with the script favouring crude slurs and pointless fight scenes to pad that abhorrently long run time.
A certain level of sympathy goes to the cast, who have little material to work with. In what must be a conscious directorial decision, every actor dials their performance up to eleven, pushing the film as far away from realism as possible, into the realms of absurdism. This isn’t an inherently bad choice, but the direction is so sloppy and unfocused, that even if a surreal, satirical tone was the intention, the execution is deeply misguided.
This is a film compounded by silliness and a poor attention to detail that will regrettably cause audiences to laugh at it, not with it. That said, the tone and mission statement is so muddled that it’s not even clear if the film wants us to laugh with it. I still don’t know if this is a drama, a comedy, a horror, or some concoction of all three.
Leading man Wladimiro Sist exhibits sparks of real emotional delivery; moments that hint at a competent actor underneath, but as his role quickly devolves into screaming his wife’s name a la Tommy Wiseau in The Room, it becomes difficult to like even him. The production also boasts unforgivable gaffs for a finished picture, including choppy editing mistakes and woefully misplaced, amateur looking effects. Effects are of course difficult to perfect, so concessions can usually be made, but the sloppy effects of Splatter Skunk are unforgivable as more often than not, they simply serve no purpose to the narrative. The only effect that really needs to exist is the zombie make up, which is one of the shoddiest looking.
As Splatter Skunk is an Italian film, English speaking audiences will rely on the subtitles, which are as nonsensical as the action on screen. That said, I suspect that properly understanding the dialogue wouldn’t give a huge amount more context to an unfathomable plot. I haven’t personally lived in Italy, but I’d imagine that most fathers and sons don’t routinely break into poorly choreographed fights, before the son violently murders a girl called ‘Lady Vampire.’ It is not Alessio, but the script that ultimately delivers the killing blow to the film.
It not only drags at a snail’s pace (there is no mention of satanic sacrifice until the forty-five-minute mark), but concurrently creates a disparate tone that at times attempts audience empathy, only to devolve completely inane or horrific plot points that we’re supposed to somehow be on board with. Compounded by a score that does nothing to support the tonally inconsistent narrative, it’s a mess.
If there is some great artistic message behind Splatter Skunk, it’s incomprehensible and buried beneath a mountain of mediocrity. The script is nonsense, the performances over the top and the editing jarring. If there is a saving grace, it’s the #cinematography, which at times shows a competent demonstration of cinematic technique. If the intention was to create a cautionary tale, then the lack of focus and bizarre style pushes it too far into absurdist silliness that it becomes totally alienating. Perhaps the titular animal is in fact, an appropriate analogy; stay away from this stinker.