Lumberjack Man (2015) **
D: Josh Bear
C: Michael Madsen, Ciara Flynn, Adam Sessler, Alex Dobrenko, Chase Joliet, Jarrett King, Amanda Moon Ray, Jasmin Carina, Christopher Sabat, Zach Guerrero, Hector Becerra, Tyler Mount, Angelina Morales
Plot Synopsis: As the staff of Good Friends Church Camp prepares for a spring break filled with "Fun Under the Son", a demon logger rises from his sap boiler to wreak his vengeance and feast on flapjacks soaked in the blood of his victims.
Review: Even though the artwork for Lumberjack Man presents it as a straight forward slasher, it's really a satire. It's not easy satirizing something like a slasher, because it's going to be marketed towards fans of the genre even though it's attacking the stupidity of these films.
At first, Lumberjack Man sticks to the usual perimeters. A group of characters are sequestered into an isolated setting. There's one liners that fall flat. The killer is introduced, but not in way that's particularly exciting. The characters go about their routines while either indulging in drugs or getting naked or both. All of these situations are presented in an over the top way to elicit humor. For awhile, Lumberjack Man comes across as a spoof and not even a good one at that.
Now, you might be asking, what's the difference between a spoof and a satire? A spoof is something done for comic effect while satirizing something is done to make a point. The distinction between the two might seem slight, but it makes a world of difference in tone and overall execution. To exaggerate a cliche, for comic effect, might garner a chuckle or two, but in the end, it's still going to come across as another undistinguished slasher.
When satirizing something, it allows for a film to have a voice, a point of view. That layer of context helps to give it an extra layer of dimension. It takes awhile, but once Lumberjack Man moves away from spoofing the genre to satirizing it, that's when things begin to take off.
The backstory involving the killer, the means in which the killer can be defeated, the attire that the heroine dons during the final showdown and the final showdown itself are all well observed moments that take dead aim at the slasher genre and how audiences even cheer on these ridiculous storylines and the sexism often displayed.
However, the big question though, is this a worthwhile endeavor? In a way, yes, because the film tries to open up your eyes to the flagrant disrespect slashers have shown its audience and how we're all too willing to go along for the ride. Films that try to have conversation with the audience are always a worthwhile endeavor, to an extent. The problem is that the conversation that Lumberjack Man tries to engage audiences in, is a conversation that's been repeated time & time again. [R] 105 minutes.
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