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In Association with
Sweatshop (2009)
Director: Stacy Davidson

review by Matthew S. Dent

Some films are built on a foundation of a good idea, or even several good ideas. They make an argument, present concepts, and tell stories through a complex narrative woven around the idea. Some films, however, weave together a series of clich�d set-pieces in a manner approximating a narrative, but somehow never reaching it - and all the while trying to distract from that very fact. Sweatshop falls into the latter camp.

I may have already given away my hand, but I didn't enjoy this film. I'll try and relate the basic premise for you, but be warned, it isn't terribly cohesive. Sweatshop features a group of 'goths' ('teenagers' in fetish gear, not Germanic tribesmen) pitching up at a dingy warehouse to set up some sort of rave night. The warehouse is infested with some sort of cannibalistic monstrosities, who pick off the goths one by one. Scarcely originality incarnate, I think you'll agree.

In fact this whole thing reeks of amateurism. Being set in a warehouse, it's woefully lit, with a seemingly permanent green tinge, as if it's a poorly made celebrity sex tape - an analogy it doesn't help with a running theme of crude nudity and fornication. I could criticise the production values some more, turn my guns on the poor quality acting, or point out that the dialogue is stilted and feels like one subculture clich� followed by another. But either of those seems redundant next to what passes for a plotline.

What we have here is a film that wants to copy a host of other successful gore-fest and horror films, adding a veil of the aforementioned goth subculture in lieu of originality. So we have a 'Michael Myers' (welding mask replacing hockey mask), strutting around apeing Pyramid with a giant hammer made out of a pole with a lump of concrete on the end - which might not be so bad, if he wasn't accompanied by an entourage made up of a cross between Samara from the Ring films, and the cast of The Hills Have Eyes, like so many backing singers.

Sweatshop is trying to make a cookie-cutter serial killer, with no attempt at background or even reason. He just sort of pops out of the ether whenever it's been too long since a murder, and mashes another character into giblets. And speaking of, you may have noticed that I haven't identified any specific characters or actors. There's a reason for that; they're such cardboard cut-outs that they seem indistinguishable from each other. Thinking back, the only ones I can remember is the whiny one with the mohawk, and the overweight one who all the girls inexplicably want to sleep with. No names, no characters, no motivations. That is not good screenwriting.

In the end, it is just boring - and that's rather an achievement for a film which more or less just graphic sex and more graphic violence. It finishes with a massacre scene where 'Murdery Joe' (my name for him - the film offers no such interesting designation) kills wave upon wave of gothlings. It has no reason, offers no explanation, and makes no sense, and in that way, it sums up the film overall.


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