Sweatshop Movie Review

Sweatshop Movie Review
Gross, gory, green, ghoulish & Goth.
Updated: 10-12-2009





I don't know many people who say, "Oh, I just love horror movies about doomed Goth kids at a rave who're getting picked off one-by-one!" What's more, I know even fewer people who are artistically driven, or even want, to direct those kinds of movies. Usually brutally slain Goth characters are a mortgage payment, or a way to break into the biz. But in this case, it seems as though established filmmaker Stacy Davidson actually thought making Sweatshop would be a good thing. It was good for me.
Surprisingly so. I mean, I'm not typically drawn to horror movies about doomed Goth kids at a rave who're getting picked off one-by-one, either. It's not easy but I do try and set personal bias aside when I review a movie. If at all possible, I will go in knowing nothing (I try to avoid synopses, trailers, teasers, etc.), my mind as blank as can be (my own critics will undoubtedly say this isn't much of a stretch). All I knew about Sweatshop was the title, and what I saw of the TCM-Saw-Hostel gritty-style poster art.
Sweatshop is very much a systematic stalk-and-slash. But it's got panache. Presentation-wise, it reminds me of another as-yet unreleased murder-spree I screened earlier this week called Red Velvet. Both movies are visually heightened, placing a great deal of importance on the color, sets, costumes, design, makeup, lighting and cinematography. I'm weary of dreary, and so Sweatshop's otherwise stock plot and characters are made palatable thanks to the way it looks.
More of a masher than a slasher (the main masked, concealed killer known as The Beast [Jay Sumrall] carries a deadly sledgehammer), Sweatshop opens on Charlie (Ashley Kay) an underground-rave mastermind whose parties are simply to die for. She's found an enormous vacant factory that's the perfect space for spinning tunes, serving spiked alcohol, dealing drugs, dancing and furtive public sexual encounters — there's only an hour to set up before the private guests show up, so Charlie and her posse had better get busy. And busted. With a sledgehammer. Ouch.
There also some other deadly creatures lurking in the shadows of this fiendish terror tale, but I'm not sure what they are. Not that it matters, because they're scary! The makeup and blood effects, done by Oddtopsy FX, Rancid House, and prop-maker Mike Oliver, are some of the best I've seen this decade. They are really cutting-edge — in every sense of those words. And when I say "seen" I mean that: That's one of the things I truly appreciated about Sweatshop. It's not dim and murky. If anything, it brings to mind Christmas night. Bright, beautiful, beckoning and crisply dark just where it needs to be. There are electric greens, reds, blues, and whites — from actual strings of lights to the glistening pigments on the ladies' eyelids. And yeah… those eyes are gouged more than once. Sweatshop ain't shy when it comes to the slaughter.
I would be remiss if I didn't state I wasn't entirely entertained by the flick from beginning to end — it does lag here and there, and the acting is dodgy from some — but all things considered it's among the cream of the modern exploitation horror crop. it's effective and original, for sure. And I want a sledgehammer for Christmas.
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Reviewed by Staci Layne Wilson

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