Day of the Ax 2007 Review
Day of the Ax 2007
Directed by: Ryan Cavalline
Starring: Dustine Ardine, Eddie Benevich, Tina Krause
Review by Luisito Joaquín González
Me, I’m one of the few that preferred Jason’s burlap sack to his hockey mask and I am guessing that even if I may be in the minority, I’m definitely not alone. The guise has been re-used a few times throughout the slasher genre, in titles like Malevolence, Baghead, Bagman and The Night Brings Charlie. In fact, Friday the 13th part 2 wasn’t the first to incorporate that get-up and the source of inspiration stems from 1976 proto-slasher, The Town That Dreaded Sundown.
Day of the Ax is another that goes for a similar guise and bizarre as it may seem that was enough to make me want to see it. Again we are in the dimension of no-budget regional filmmaking, but as Freak proved in 1999, if such films play to their strengths they can actually make limitations work to their favour.
There are a few stalk and slash related sites on the web, so when I launched a SLASH above, my aim was to cater for the rarer entries – the little guys, so to speak. Now this was produced in the year 2007, so you’d think that it was fairly easy to track down a copy from one of the many online retail sites. Wrong! At the time of writing, there’s not even one review on the IMDB and I can’t find any for sale anywhere. The likes of Cards of Death or Savage Vows are understandably obscure, due to their age and poor distribution. In this era of digital sharing and duplication though, I have no idea why this one has disappeared.
Three youngsters head off to a campsite to meet with a friend who has invited them up for the weekend. Unbeknownst to them, a masked murderer who killed twelve people with an axe and was never caught still stalks the grounds. They soon bump in to the menace and realise that they need to fight for their lives to escape.
The joys of modern technology mean that I can simply transfer a DVD to my iPad and enjoy it on my way to work, which is much better than having to wait until I get home. With Day of the Ax, I had to take two viewings, because my battery ran out before the 20 minute mark. I have noticed a trend in slasher movies that many of them start quite well, but fade around halfway through. I guess that this is because the formula is thin and just one or two good ideas are not enough to extend over a feature-length period. Ax is another one of those darlings, because I was impressed in a big way by what I saw during the beginning, but then it all went round something of a turd-packed u-bend.
It launches with a prologue that is set-up like a morbid HBO documentary or a Police evidence video that informs us of the previous murders of local psycho, JR Sorg. It’s a neat idea that’s definitely been done before, but I haven’t seen it utilised for a good while. Then a couple of unfortunate woodland walkers get slashed and there’s even one or two minor scares during this sequence. I honestly could feel the chemistry of an early chapter in the Jason franchise and the bogeyman looked great in that mask as he roared and grunted like a backwoods mongrel.
It’s when the true inspirations of the feature become apparent that we really begin to slide along the slippery slopes of rubbishness. You see, I initially believed that this was another tribute to Steve Miner’s classic Friday sequel, but it turns into more of an homage to the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Homage? Actually, make that an unofficial remake with a few lines from Halloween chucked in for the hell of it. When our gang of victims become stranded in the forest, they bump in to the killer and his brother and sister and they’re equally as twisted as the guy in the potato sack. I’m a big believer in Constantin Stanislavski’s philosophy of method acting; however I’m definitely against people watching characters from other features and then totally ripping them off. This cast is obviously filled with locals or friends of the director, but they don’t rise to the occasion at all and their annoying portrayals quickly ruin any tension. It can’t have helped that they are handed inane dialogue and an overload of explicit profanity, which is a crime that I’m never willing to forgive. The English language is unique for its amount of word choices, so if the best you can muster is a F*** or a C***; it only goes to prove your lack of intelligence.
Technically we are at a crossroads here. I’m willing to overlook the continuity in the special effects, because the budget is clearly at a bare minimum. Most of them are really bad, but I was impressed by the disembowelment scene. It looks like it was edited at the nuthouse (hold on, judging by the pre-credits it was!) and despite the score being extremely impressive, the overuse of the same sound effect in places took some credit from the composer’s work. The biggest positive (and it’s a big one) is that Ryan Cavalline manages to do what very few at this level can achieve and that is make you jump out of your seat. There are a few very credible shocks and it takes a fine sense of timing to pull those off. As a reviewer, it’s my job to criticise the quality, but I can’t take anything away from the ambition that’s on show here.
Day of the Ax is a poor movie that has moments of credibility, but not enough to deserve a viewing. There should have been more focus on the script, which is rushed and underwritten. Chances for a chase sequence are only created because the psycho family seem to share the gene of tying the poorest knots ever committed to celluloid and this method is re-used so many times that you can only worry about what they did with their shoelaces. Ax is most definitely aimed at exploitation fans and there’s a lengthy full frontal nudity shot within the first five minutes and some of the latter scenes owe more to the torture porn styling than they do the typical stalk and slasher. Maybe it’s me, but I don’t enjoy watching bad actors shout at each other and I don’t like hearing pointless vulgarity. If those things hit your ignition switch, then by all means give this a shot.
Final Girl: √