Sunday, May 11, 2014

Blood on the Disco: Discopath (2013)

Discopath (Canada, 2013) (AKA "Discopathe")
Rating: ***1/2
Starring: Catherine Antaki, François Aubin, Sandrine Bisson

We all seen the sorts of traumatic experiences that unhinge slasher murderers: horrible pranks, death of loved ones, bad lovers, over (sometimes under) bearing parents, ridicule, etc. But had you seen somebody snap just because they heard a certain kind of music?

The year was 1976; low paid frycook Duane Lewis lived a dull and miserable life until that one day in the job he heard something that somehow awakened his inner bloodlust: Disco. Going into a fixed trance hearing this tune, Lewis nearly sets the grill joint on fire, costing him his job. Now more miserable than ever, Lewis wanders off to a roller park and befriends a girl who took pity of his plight, inviting him to go dancing at a nightclub known as Seventh Heaven. As anyone who had seen it coming, the music overwhelmed Lewis and once he got this girl alone with him, he thanked her for the new trends by stabbing and slashing her with a kitchen knife underneath the disco floor.

Waking up bloodied the morning, Lewis flee to Montreal using a stolen identity while the cops investigated the murder. There, he went under a different name and worked as a "mute and deaf" handyman at an all-girls school. Things went by okay, with Lewis repressing his "condition" by using a hearing aid to block out any noise. That was until the year 1980 when two rebellious girls decided to stay behind and play vinyl records in their dorm. Upon hearing the vibration of  the beat, all hell broke loose and Lewis snaps back into a tune-enraged maniac, even crazier than last time!

A trippy and original exploitative homage to 70s and 80s slasher movies, Discopath definitely worked its style-over-substance take on the sub-genre as director Renaud Gauthier effectively captures those bygone days of drive-ins and grindhouse movies, hoarding in plenty of Italian giallo- inspired camera work and lighting, gritty vintage feel and a killer disco soundtrack to boot!

The flow of the plot is non-linear, interestingly as the first 20 minutes or so would look like as if we'll be focusing on our titular discopath in the same likeness of Lustig's notorious Maniac (1980), but after that groovy Disco Floor murder, it suddenly shifts to a French campus slasher that's kinda reminiscent of Spain's La Residencia (1969) or even Pieces (1982). (The latter was actually played as one of the two companion films during this movie's US debut at American Cinematheque film fest last October 2013. The other title being Prom Night (1980) a fitting choice in terms of tone and theme.)

Gore work is at its best here as well; interesting to note the man behind them, Remy Couture, was once charged for obstructing Canadian obscenity laws back in 2012. After seeing the goriest set-piece he made here, involving two girls being butchered with vinyl shards, I can easily vouch for his talent in making good realistic gore, albeit the majority of the murders here were not as brutal and were mostly on the level of those you can find in 80s slasher flicks: quick and (mostly) painless. They even wallowed in some 70s style psychedelic horror when they had the discopath character torments a captured teacher with heads of previous victims, all done in the nude!

I do, however, question the acting of the film; while the idea of a disco-triggered killing spree sounds truthfully silly, Discopath was played straight. But some of the casts here (more pointing to the English speaking actors) played their roles with much exaggeration and clichés that you can't but feel they're out of place. You can't tell if these were supposed to be a campy slasher tribute or a brutally serious dead teenager flick with disco thanks to these guys.

Thankfully, the climax was pretty good which includes cops chasing our killer until they managed to corner him atop of a building. The pros were that this scene had KIZZ's I was Made for Lovin' You playing over and it had a pretty cool twist ending, but the con was this was badly executed and acted, taking away any possible impact to what would have been an awesome finale.

For its worth, Discopath is undoubtedly a good flick. Greater even if they fixed the climax but everything was so in par with the concept that you just got to love the effort. I'm gonna end this review with shout-out to the director: whatever it is you are doing, don't stop! A few more tweaks and you almost had it, but as of now, great flick! Awesome idea! Worth a watch for slasher and horror fans alike!

1 female repeatedly knifed, hand torn off
1 male electrocuted on sound equipment (flashback)
2 female cut open and stuffed with broken vinyl records, beheaded
1 female electrocuted on a rigged trip wire
1 male stabbed on the gut with switchblade
1 male stabbed on the neck with a switchblade
1 female strangled to death
1 male hits his head on a car windshield
1 male falls to his death, head smashed against pavement
Total: 10

(Note: I left out a possible kill due to the uncertainty of the guy's condition.)

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