From J.T. Petty (director of the halfway decent direct-to-video "Mimic 3: Sentinel") comes the bizarre, pseudo-documentary, pseudo-mockumentary, pseudo-scripted feature "S&Man" (pronounced "Sandman", not "S and M Man").
The film is presented and introduced as a "documentary" about how, after his original intent to make a film about a convicted voyeur from his hometown failed, J.T. Petty decides to interview underground horror filmmakers who make simulated snuff films and B-movies. These subjects include real filmmakers Fred Vogul (director of the famed and nauseating "August Underground" series, and several other extreme films), Bill Zebub (another real underground director I am not familiar with) and a fictional character, Eric Rost (played by Erik Marcisak), whom is the creator and director of the "S&Man" video series. A series similar to Vogul's "found-footage" work, in which Rost plays an evil character who stalks women and murders them.
Petty and his crew interview the three men (Vogul in particular giving some great insight into horror, underground film and extreme cinema, and why people are into these sorts of films), "Debbie D", an underground film actress, and several psychologists and therapists, talking about horror and its impact on society.
And the first half of the film does come off as a rather compelling analysis of extreme horror and underground cinema, the reasons why it is made and has a popularity, and how/why it impacts people. Some of it is very troubling, some of it is insightful, and some of it is disgusting.
However, the problem lies in the fact that this isn't a true documentary. The first half of the film is essentially an excuse Petty uses to make the second half, which is 90% a scripted story (though still in documentary style) feel more real. In the scripted storyline, Petty begins to question if Rost's "S&Man" series is real or fake, and Rost begins to exhibit evil, disturbing and dangerous tendencies, climaxing in an interesting ending.
However, it felt very unneeded and unnatural. The scripted storyline is phoned in and obvious, and Rost (though compellingly and wonderfully played by Marcisak) just comes off as too much of a "character" in comparison to the real cast like Vogul and Zebub.
So much insight and thought is placed into the real, documentary segments (as I said, Vogul has some very interesting things to say, and Zebub is a fascinating and seemingly troubled person), and they are so informative, that the scripted segments felt like too much of a betrayal. It would have been more compelling if Petty had either made a straight documentary, without the "Is Rost really a killer?" scripted storyline, or just made a full-on mockumentary about Rost. Combining the real and the fake is an interesting concept, and could work, but it just quite doesn't gel here.
As it stands, it's not a bad film, but sadly "meh." An average 5 out of 10.
S&MAN begins with footage from Michael Powell's exploration of voyeurism, "Peeping Tom." Director JT Petty uses this footage as a starting point to examine the classic comparison between filmmaking and voyeurism, particularly within the horror genre. He goes on to investigate this connection further, but rather than looking to classic horror films, Petty explores the seedy underground genre of fetish films. These movies are basically simulated snuff films where victims are raped and murdered in a variety of fantasy scenarios. The most notorious of these is a series called "S&Man," where voyeurism takes center stage as people are unknowingly followed with a camera. Petty plunges headfirst into this world of bizarre fetish films, and comes up with mesmerizing interviews with the producers and actors of these movies. Much of the footage from these videos will shock and disturb even the most seasoned horror veteran. However, the connection that Petty draws between these films and ...
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August 31, 2018 at 07:48 AM