Directed by Josh C. Waller
Starring Zoë Bell, Rachel Nichols, Tracie Thoms
Review by Jordan
If you can survive the brutal first 15 minutes of Raze, a prologue at once sad, violent and just plain horrific, then you have a 50% chance of enduring the remaining 72… but if the sight of women forcefully pummeling each-other (one knowing the reason why, the other unsuspecting and desperately scared) until death signifies the end turns your stomach to the extent that you question your decision to watch this aggressive exploitation flick, that’s quite OK; you can spend the next 72 minutes of your life saving yourself from the nihilism and gore though also depriving yourself from a little film destined for cult status.
Raze (I should’ve known) isn’t the best film to watch while wired after a hard days work, but rather a high intensity bare-knuckle (literally) thriller that if you’re past your teenage years you must be prepared for. It presents a scenario of 50 women, all strangers to each-other that are imprisoned by eccentric husband and wife Elizabeth (Sherilyn Fenn) and Joseph (frequent Guillermo del Toro collaborator Doug Jones) and forced to fight to the death in order to save their loved ones from execution while a group of well-dressed socialites watch on and sip their wine.
It is, to put it bluntly, the cinematic equivalent of stubbing your toe on the dresser once you’ve just gotten out of bed before accidentally scolding yourself in the shower. Not a pleasant experience. However, unlike the bruises and burns you’d garner from the above scenario the trip into Josh C. Waller‘s disturbed little world presents some indisputable positives, the main two being that stunt woman Zoe Bell (Kill Bill, Grindhouse) can act, and Waller has an unflinching directorial eye that could take him far in the action/horror genres.
The emergence of Bell is the top highlight. While not endearing herself to the audience immediately, she embodies her lead character of Sabrina (a former POW whose estranged daughter is in danger) with a stern vigor and increasing urgency, transitioning from quietly observing to screaming for blood and enacting bloody vengeance. Without her as an emotional center giving viewers hope and something to invest in, and considering it’s very bleak tone and central idea, Raze could very well be unbearable….
If you think the prospect of seeing lean, mean fighting girls kickboxing one another to oblivion makes for a popcorn munching good time, think again. Raze is intense, sickening and very serious in its intent to have an impact in an era of desensitized film-goers, and have an impact it does.