Good Nerd, Bad Nerd

By Bryan Scheidler


In the Horror movie genre there are many different sub-genres to be explored. From Monsters and aliens to psycho’s and the deranged, there really is a category for everyone. One of the more interesting sub-genre’s is the “Making a film gets out of hand” category. This category includes such films as The Blair Witch Project, Truth or Dare, and Shadow of the Vampire. The film CUT!, by director David Roundtree, takes on this sub-genre in a what initially seems like a straight forward story, but it couldn’t be further from the truth.

The story for this film is your basic: two guys get together to make a low budget horror film and things get out of hand. Without spoiling anything, the story has an off putting feeling - like you are being led down a path that you know is a trap, but you just can’t figure out why.  As frustrating as that sounds, it is actually quite brilliant. From the very first scene, the audience can sense something is wrong and the more you watch the more that uneasy feeling persists. The unease helps deliver a story that is remarkable good. The clever story, along with the cinematography, sound design, technical aspects, and cast work together to deliver a complete movie-going experience.

From a technical stand point this movie is top notch.  The cinematography reflects the tension in the movie. When scenes are chaotic or stressful, the camera work gets choppy and erratic. On the flip side, the scenes in between the chaos are still and peaceful.  From a sound effects standpoint, CUT! nailed it. Sound effects can often be the undoing of many films, due to over use or poor quality of the sounds. CUT! doesn’t have that problem. The quality of the audio work and the decisions on when to use effects are outstanding.  The effects are used sparingly and only to add tension to the scene. CUT! did not fall into the trap of adding effects solely for a gross factor, like so many horror films are prone to do.

The entire cast does an excellent job in their parts, but the film would have failed if not for the great work of David Banks and Roundtree himself.  Banks and Roundtree play the down on their luck aspiring film makers Travis and Lane, and it is their relationship that makes this movie work. Lane, as played by Roundtree (yes he directed himself in this film), plays a young aspiring film maker who dreams of getting a chance to create something great. It’s his frustration at the mediocrity of the directors in the industry that pushes Lane down a dark road.. Travis, as played by Banks, is who really sells the film. Travis is that friend we all have from high school that got into to trouble, messed up their life, but for some reason we still hang out with them.  It is with Travis that the audience experiences the world of CUT!. David Banks does an amazing job, and it is safe to say the movie would be a failure without him.

While I enjoyed the film my one and only complaint is the last scene. It had the potential to be something exceptionally cool, but it needed one subtle moment setting it up earlier in the film. Without that set up, the scene comes across out of the blue. Of course, I don’t want to say too much that I might give away other aspects of this movie, but the best way for me to describe it would be that the motivation of one character gets unnecessarily murky. Regardless, the film is totally worth your time from a technical and acting stand point, and I recommend it. The movie is currently available on

Destroy All Fanboys Review

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Just when you think the modern Hollywood horror film has been all tapped out, along comes one of those movies that keeps you guessing even if you think you know what’s coming. Director/co-writer David Rountree tosses some tasty ideas into his chunky horror stew that will keep you hooked in and guessing right up until the double (or is it triple?) back-flip ending.

That said, if you go in with expectations of yet another slasher film, it’s a good sign that the movie shoots you down a few predictable paths before whipping the red carpet from underneath you much more than you’d think.
CUT! zips between black comedy and dramatic bits with equal relish, piling on just enough shocks and blood spilled without going too far into the red zone. It also works as a thriller because it drops you into a mystery as you slowly see that not everything is as it seems on the surface.

While it may seem like a flaw, the Travis/Lane dynamic is actually one of the things that makes an oddball kind of sense by the climax. The movie toys with the audience like a cat batting around a mouse or bird before going in for the kill and depositing a little gift on its owner’s lap. Somehow, the two
CONTINUE filming, the bodies start piling up and yes, your brain will go on a neat little spin as the film progresses.

In addition to some solid camerawork and pacing throughout, Rountree’s gets some nice work from his small cast that includes Sam Scarber, Dahlia Salem. Watch out for the cameos from Suze Lanier-Bramlett (
The Hills Have Eyes, The Hills Have Eyes Part II) andGabrielle Stone, both of whom get some icky verbal abuse from Lane when they pop up to pick up some rental equipment for the film they’re making.

One thing you don’t want or need to do is apply arbitrary rules of reality to anything you see here. It will seem that some scenes are so incredulous that they make little to no sense in the real world. But again, that’s Rountree playing hard with your expectations as he manipulates your mindset. Yes, a few cliches get tossed into the mix and bubble to the surface a tad undercooked or overdone. But what makes the film work are the way it takes what should be eye-rolling moments and hooks you in even deeper thanks to surprises you may not have seen arriving at just the right moment. As things are explained, you may feel relieved on one hand while the other part of your brain is saying “WTF?” at how messed up certain things turn out for some of the characters.

As noted above, if you’re one of those restless movie viewers who likes to get up and hit the snack bar or have a short attention span when watching films at home, not paying attention to the story will have you lost a few times. In a theater situation, you can’t pause the film if you need a bathroom break and this is seriously one of those movies where missing even a minute or two will leave you in the dark if you missed a twist or reveal. Fortunately,
CUT! is a cut above the rest and should hold your interest until the very end. While a sequel is probably not in the cards, I’d keep a good eye on David Rountree is he decides to make another genre (or any other) flick. This one’s got teeth (and a hammer) and will nail you to your seat from start to finish.

Celluloid Terror Review

Directed By: David Rountree
Written By: David
BANKSarrow-10x10, David Rountree
Starring: David Rountree, David
BANKSarrow-10x10, Sam Scarber

Travis Simon (David Rountree) is an aspiring film maker working at a film equipment rental warehouse fulfilling orders to help other film makers make the movie of their dreams. Along with his friend Lane (David
BANKSarrow-10x10) who is on parole, they aim to make their own hit horror film by scaring real people. Things quickly get out of hand and someone dies from their tactics. Lane decides this is the way to make a truly terrifying and realistic film, and reluctantly Travis agrees, driven by the dream of making a successful film.

CUT! caught me off guard as I had heard nothing about it prior to viewing the film for this review. The film is successful on all levels, but the foundation is in its fantastic screenplay. David
BANKSarrow-10x10 and David Rountree nailed a story and script that is simple and effective complete with a couple of twists that the viewer won't see coming and will turn the entire film on its head. A well done plot twist at the climax of a film is something of a cliche these days and one that most films don't manage to pull off. CUT! pulls it off and really makes the film that much more interesting and special at the end.

Rountree and Banks play very well off each other as the nerdy dreamer with his head in the clouds and the asshole, "fuck the world" friend made bitter by a stint in jail who is quite unlikeable.  The dichotomy works very well in progressing the actions and decisions of the characters in getting to the final product. The supporting cast is also pretty damn spot on. There's no performances that the audience needs to overlook as a downside to independent horror films. The special effects work is also good, with a good amount of blood being spilled. The negative here is that much of the violence is off screen, which is important to the context of the film but as a horror film it may leave the audience wanting a bit more in the way of gratuitous violence and gore.

CUT! came out of left field and is a tight character study in to the mind of someone that will do anything to create the art he loves. Horror fans should appreciate this approach and the success of the performances and the script.

French Toast Sunday Review

Cut! is a new independent horror/mystery film which recently made it’s way to Video On Demand after earning serious recognition at the 2014 Independent Film and Television festival. The film is a meta-movie. It’s a serial killer movie about a couple folks making a serial killer movie starring a serial killer. Based on some of the promotional materials, I went into this expecting a cliché gore-filled over the top horror flick but what I got instead was an altogether more engaging film.

As the plot unfolds there’s palpable emotion between the characters as they struggle to get a grip on what is happening to them and what they have done. The film goes beyond the horror genre and into mystery/thriller territory as the plot carries an air of uncertainty throughout. All in all, the story is well-written, and I especially enjoyed the third act.

The lead character is played by David Rountree who also wrote and directed this film. His character, Travis, is for me, the most compelling. The seemingly quiet by –the-book aspiring director, is a deep character that transforms before the viewer’s eyes into what he truly is. He’s backed up by David Banks playing an ex-con named Lane. The character of Lane is also complex, an ex-con who possesses no compassion or kindness towards any of those around him, except perhaps to Travis. As things become more serious in the film, you start to see a softening of this hardened “bad guy”. You begin to see remorse and in my opinion, that’s one of the hardest emotions to pull off. The acting is more than serviceable and I think I prefer it that way. Could the acting have been better with Hollywood A-listers? Probably. But the relative anonymity of much of the cast sort of lends to the realism the film is shooting for.

The film is well put together; it is able to be quite successful with a lot of different attributes. They did a lot with a presumably small budget, the mise-en-scene is effective, never seeming tacky or rushed or short-changed. The plot employs elements of suspense and surprise through a series of twists and turns that leave the audience on the edge of their seat. The action sequences aren’t overly drawn out, they are quick and powerful. One disappointment was the lack of gore I got out of this film. I suppose part of that owes to my initial expectations, but a good horror film should have no shortage of blood and guts, in my book at least. At the end of the day, this is quite a good film.

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Cryptic Rock Review

Cryptic Rock Review
by Eva Malerba


The feel of the movie exudes the realness of home-filmed clips with studio vantage-point camera angles to give the viewer the essence of watching something real. The desire of multi-hatted Rountree to portray a Horror that is as intense as real is achieved as viewers may have to ask, “Is this real or acting?” The twists presented will drive the audience to replay this flick over and over again to digest the full intricacy of the plot. The story, cast, and acting seem all too believable, which adds to extra fear and suspense that is obviously intended. With just the right balance of rookie and accomplished acting, 
Cut! definitely raises an eyebrow to what lengths someone would go to achieve fame.  With a climax leading to an ending setting the stage for a sequel, one can only hope to be presented with one sooner than later. Cut!is a must watch for those that love a detailed, thought-out story with just the right amount of gore, reminiscent of older school Horror. 

CrypticRock gives 
Cut! 4.5 out of 5 stars.

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