Director: Josh C. Waller Writers: Robert Beaucage (story and screenplay), Kenny Gage (story) and Josh C. Waller (story) Cast: Zoë Bell, Rachel Nichols, Rebecca Marshall, Bailey Anne Borders, Tracie Thoms, Sherilyn Fenn, Doug Jones, Bruce Thomas, Adrienne Wilkinson, Allene Quincy, Jordan James Smith Runtime: 87 mins Rating: Not Rated
Many tough female characters have been presented to us over the course of movie making history: Xena, Jordan O’Neill in G.I. Jane, The Bride in Kill Bill, etc. After seeing Raze, you are going to have a very different opinion about what is considered a “tough female character.”
When Sabrina (Zoë Bell) is mysteriously abducted by a secret society, she finds herself locked up in an underground space where she, along with fifty other women, are forced to fight one another to the death. Only one can be the winner of the violent game, and those who do not comply put more than just their life on the line.
Raze is a knuckle-cracking, raw action film entering the already overpopulated genres of action and horror. One of the unique elements of the entire project is how it’s been filmed. Josh Waller is very good at delivering the raw and gritty feel you want in these kind of movies, something we saw in his film McCanick. Each scene in Raze is dark and heart-pounding, creating a good balance between the elements of suspense, action, and fright. It holds its intended tone from the very beginning, without creating distractions that take the viewer away from the action sequences. Music was another element that was done quite well, with each individual piece matching the specific moment in the film and its overall tone.
The cast is an ensemble of some of the best performers in the industry, but that didn’t overshadow the flow of the film. This movie isn’t like Expendables, where Chuck Norris coming on screen is an “oh yeahhhh” moment and that’s it. This film isn’t trying to be funny and the cast, in whatever capacity or time they appear on screen, achieve their individual purpose and add value to the overall storyline. The first highlight is, without a doubt, Zoë Bell. For those of you who don’t know, she has done stunts for Xena: Warrior Princess, Kill Bill, Inglourious Basterds and even Iron Man 3. She also acted in a number of notable films including Oblivion and Django Unchained. Going into this film and seeing her perform, there is just no doubt she can do what she is doing on screen. Her built figure, her powerful acting ability, and her strong personality make her a brilliant choice to play the protagonist of the film. I’m personally happy that Bell has found a film where she can show off her skills front and centre.
Another highlight performance comes from Rebecca Marshall, a fellow Torontonian. Her character has got to be the craziest of them all, and she delivers that manic side brilliantly as the perfect antagonist to be pitted against Bell’s character. The ensemble cast has been chosen well. Each artist brings to the table something fresh and unique. The wonderful Doug Jones brings forward a calculating but refined evil person, while Bailey Borders delivers an innocent character forced to unleash emotions that she does not possess. I could go on, but there are so many cast members, this review would probably become twice as long.
There were a few things that were a bit of a let down. The story could have been developed a little bit further, such as providing a bit of a back story to some of the major characters as they they did feel a bit incomplete. The action sequences were brilliant, with appropriate gore and blood to match the “horror” tag the film has. However, some of the action sequences could have been longer or more complex, especially when multiple people were involved, letting the scene deliver a hundred percent of what it hoped to in the first place.
The let downs are not big enough to take away from the film, however. Raze is a gutsy film, one that Waller had the guts to take on and put together. Some may express the concern that the film is derogatory towards women. It isn’t. The film takes alpha-female characters – played by alpha-talent – and puts them into a raw, undefined scenario and lets it all play out. It is more complex than most traditional horror films out there, a refreshing new addition to the action genre, and is certainly an interesting project on the whole. Here is an independent film that achieves what it sets out to do.