I had rather a soft spot for this one, shot by a ragtag group of George Romeros usual wrecking crew, ‘Effects’ is a very rough and ready production that was shot on a shoestring, largely for fun, by a group of effects aritists, cam ops and actors who were having a bit of a lull work wise and wanted to shoot a movie on the fly.
The plot of the film is that…well a film crew are shooting a slasher in the woods that deals with possession, and over the course of 80ish minutes we start to get into the crews heads as they reveal their loves and hates, fantasies and fears and eventually this melting pot of personality clashes boils over turning the set into an ACTUAL bloodbath.
Not a whole lot to say on this one honestly, I thought the script was pretty solid as a psychodrama come slasher up until the 3rd act where I feel a bit like I missed a couple of plot beats because it snaps into ‘slasher’ mode VERY quickly, almost without warning. very mild spoilers, but given the film is so special effects heavy (when you have Tom Savini in the casting and crewing, of course it will be) I kind of liked that you could never quite tell when the gory violence on screen was supposed to be part of the movie, or whether it was ACTUALLY happening in the films universe.
That did however come with some drawbacks though, as…I feel they kind of overplayed the ‘Gory thing happens, Ahhhh it was just for the movie!’ schtick, once or twice across the runtime is fine, but they overdid that pullback and reveal a little bit for me. It also caused problems for me in the 3rd act when things really started to get grizzly because I wasnt quite sure whether these were real murders or faux ones…maybe a little more distinction between the quality of the effects would have helped this thing a bit.
Outside of that though, it’s decently paced, theres clean act structures that mostly transition fine enough (barring a slightly bumpy shift between the 2nd and 3rd acts) The characters are reasonably written, feel naturalistic and believable for the time and the dialogue has a quite decent flow to it. There were a couple of dry moments and the odd scene or two that felt a little bit like padding. But on the whole I liked that this film had space to breath and didnt overstay its welcome.
The direction was pretty tight for this kind of production, it’s clear that the midnight movie craze had hit this film pretty hard as everything has a grimey rough and ready ‘run ‘n’ gun’ vibe to it that suits the tone of the film perfectly giving it a seedy and sleazy edge that really helps take it to the next level.
As such the cine is a little rough around the edges too, but that works in the films favour, allowing them to mask some of the less than perfect effects shots and smooth over some of the more gratuitous gore shots VERY effectively. some scenes really do feel quite real. sequences are edited quite frantically, but it’s clear they had a decent editor on board who knew when to slow scenes right down to let the character development bed in. I do feel that they go a little *too* manic in the final acts around the woods as I regularly lost my a way during those sequences. but on the whole, I think this looks about as good as it can do fro the circumstance and budget.
The cast are all Romero regulars, so as you can imagine theres a certain standard being adhered to. I wont say its perfect because this is clearly being made for fun, and noone heres trying to win an academy award. But i’ve seen much MUCH worse in my time, and even for goofing, these guys do a decent job of keeping animate when they need to, but knowing when to play quiet for maximum effect.
What sealed the deal for me really was the soundtrack which is AWESOME. its a synth based work and…I dunno, for lack of a better word its a ‘vibe’ unto itself. easily one of the best things about and already pretty okay movie. and one thats worth checking out.
All in all? This is a fun little movie that really seems to be functioning more as a tech demo for gore effects and ‘tape’ for a cast in between movies than anything else. Above average for slasher thrillers of this time. I’d say if you like Savinis work and 80s low budget exploitation you’ll have a hoot with this thing! it’s gore wall to wall for the most part and it reminded me a little bit of early 80s ‘found footage’ mondo movies. I’d say give it a go if you can find a copy for a good price.