A group of women wake up in small metal cells and are forced to beat each other down with their bare hands til death. TWO CHICKS ENTER…ONE CHICK LEAVE! As you might expect, these fights are live broadcast for the entertainment of rich assholes dining somewhere in the distance. To drive these ladies to murder, their hosts provide live feeds of their loved ones, under constant surveillance and gunpoint. Should a lady lose a fight, her family dies with her. The majority of the film takes place below ground (we assume) with these women in peril and a forced connection between some of them as they scream through the walls. The challenge for the film makers becomes creating new situations and dialogue on a very small stage and not have it become repetitive, boring…or in the case of the beat downs…excessive. Luckily, they’ve got a very likable cast.
Above ground, we have Doug Jones as Joseph, a fantastically self righteous and spectacularly twisted host of sorts, leading the ladies to slaughter and acting as MC and overlord to the games. By his side is Sherilyn Fenn, who might just be more insane than her partner. The two play their roles to perfection, with just enough crazy to keep us engaged, love them, and wait happily for them to meet their sticky end…which is inevitable in a movie like this. Too many movies today spend a lot of time making you sympathize with the villain, showing that, ultimately, the world isn’t so black and white. Here, it’s plain for all to see. These are affluent psychos with nothing better to do with their money. It’s fun to watch folks like that meet a grizzly fate!
Below ground we have a handful of women who may have to fight one another at any moment. The focus of the film is on Zoe Bell (aka that crazy lady who likes to hang off the hood of muscle cars in Tarantino movies). Her finishing move seems to be to cave in the face of her enemies. Yes, she’ll cry and scream while she’s doing it..because murder bad…but she’ll still make that face look like peanut butter and jelly…heavy on the jelly. Zoe’s intensity more than makes up any forced emotions they have her play out, so we’ll ignore the weepiness. It’s damn fun to watch her fight..and run..and generally whup ass all over the place. MORE ACTION FILMS FOR ZOE PLEASE!! Backing her up are Deathproof costars Tracie Thoms (who isn’t reduced to the sassy black girl and is actually allowed to act her ass off) and a quickie cameo from Rosario Dawson..in a role you’ll probably never see her in again! Practically worth the price of admission alone but over far too quickly. We’ve also got the sickeningly sweet blonde, the clawing at the ground psycho and that one super snarky, homicidal chick who loves being there. By the movie’s finale, you can’t wait for Zoe to get her hands on that one..and that’s damn good film making.
Is RAZE uplifting? Nope. Is it a non stop thrillride? Naa. Raze is a horse of a different color. It’s dark, wet, mean, messed up, painful, devoid of all happiness…and ultimately pretty damn fun to watch. I viewed this one half awake after a looooong day. Raze not only kept me conscious and alert, but it slapped me in the face a few times and had me smiling on at least a dozen occasions. If you are looking for a pleasing resolution where everyone skips of into the sunset or perhaps a classic Corman romp where soapy prison breasts are plentiful, you’d best look someplace else. Make no mistake. Raze does not have a sweet spot. This is one nasty movie.