Raze (2013) Review
Jamie (Rachel Nichols) wakes up in a place that she doesn’t recognize. In the hallway, she meets another woman, Sabrina (Zoe Bell), and Sabrina attacks her; forcing her to fight. Sabrina ends up beating her to death, but it is something that Sabrina had to do, or her daughter would have died. In fact, all the women held captive in this facility are forced into bloody and brutal battles to the death, for if they don’t fight or lose a fight, a loved one of theirs will be killed. The captured loved ones are shown to the captive girls via a live video feed. The final woman standing tall in victory and remaining alive will be the champion and will be set free, along with those she is fighting to save. Escape is impossible as all of the captive loved ones and fighters are constantly under the watchful of cruel guards. All of this is run by the evil and insane couple of Elizabeth (Sherilyn Fenn) and Joseph (Doug Jones).
This subversion of the WIP (women in prison) flick is one of this year’s most vicious and ass kicking releases. Sure this has what one would expect in a WIP film: beautiful women being held captive by evil wardens and guards, but it eliminates some of the more out right exploitative elements of the sub-genre, like nudity, lesbians, and sex. But, it does feature the violence, and it does so at full force. Make no bones about it; this action-horror movie is a force to be reckoned with.
Under lesser hands Raze would simply have been a mindless exercise in ultra-violence, but director Robert Beaucage appears to be the man to do this movie right. That said, the movie is unquestionably unflinching in its handling of onscreen violence. The brutal and shocking fight scenes are graphic and intense, and the choreography for these scenes is excellent. It allows for them to be handled in a way that is realistic to the situation and the characters involved.
From the very beginning, Raze let’s the audience know what you are in for and never really lets up. The excellent editing adds to the movie’s nail-biting suspense. I had my fists clenched and was at the edge of my seat for most the film's duration. And, it is because all those involved in the fighting scenes are women that it comes off as such an unflinching movie, and this also makes the violence feel very nasty, and therefore the audience is disgusted watching it. Yet, there is a certain point in the movie where something happens that makes you cheer Sabrina on. It’s at this point that movie fully charges your adrenaline and doesn’t let go, all the way up to the gory and truly badass, action-packed climax.
The acting in Raze is in true top form, from all involved. This is a star-making performance for Bell - As the heroine Sabrina she is strong, good-hearted, and someone that the audience wants to follow through this horrible ordeal. We are on her side, from the moment, we learn her predicament. As one of her major antagonists, Phoebe, Rebecca Marshall is a truly, psychotic, and dangerous bitch. Another memorable performance comes from pretty Baliey Ann Borders as Cody. Her likable and sweet character adds a level of heart wrenching power that elevates the whole emotional level to the movie. Fellow genre fans will love seeing Doug Jones (Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth) out of make-up and playing such a truly a despicable villain. It’s also great to see one of my long time favorites, Sherilyn Fenn (Twins Peaks), back in a horror flick, more so when in such a deliciously evil role.
Thanks to all these elements and excellent talent in front and behind the camera; Raze is elevated to a level far beyond what most films of this type could ever even aspire to. Light years ahead of its ilk and competition, Raze is an unrelenting and savage horror-actioner that will play with your emotions, and then give a hard and brutal kick right in the ass. This is one hell of a ride, and a highly recommended one at that.
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