Sweatshop (2009)

Author: Brett Gallman
Submitted by: Brett Gallman   Date : 2011-09-12 21:27

Written by: Ted Geoghegan, Stacy Davidson
Directed by: Stacy Davidson
Starring: Ashley Kay, Peyton Wetzel, and Brent Himes

Reviewed by: Brett G.

One hammer...no prisoners.

Whether we like it or not, I think we’re stuck with slashers, especially since it’s easier than ever to gather a bunch of people in front of a camera and kill them off. As long as there are stupid characters willing to do stupid things, some maniac will be there to kill them off in bloody fashion. Sweatshop has plenty of stupidity and blood, which means we can add “throwing a party in an abandoned sweatshop” to the list of slasher no-no’s.

Walking around naked in one is probably especially bad, especially when there’s a trigger happy cop roaming about. Some poor girl learns that the hard way and gets shot to death for her nude transgression. Six hours later, a group of friends show up at the sweatshop with the intentions of turning it into a giant rave (do people still rave in 2011?). What they don’t realize is that there’s a homicidal beast stalking the place who is looking to crash the party with his foundry hammer and a couple of mutant minions.

Sweatshop is more egregiously terrible than most slashers. I know I’m stating the obvious when I say its characters are simply husks to be eviscerated, but this is an aggressively obnoxious group. It’s almost like a Hot Topic store threw up in the middle of an abandoned warehouse, and that’s unfortunately where we have to lay our uninteresting scene. I’m all for character development to give some stakes to the eventual bloodletting, but this movie doesn’t establish characters so much as it establishes something barely resembling human beings who love drinking and vulgarity. Everyone’s a slut, an asshole, or a slutty asshole. And all deserve everything that happens to them, especially since they don’t really do much besides waste your time. The stuff they “do” includes having sex, talking about sexual trauma (one guy is still trying to get over an ill-fated snowballing moment), dancing, and fretting over whether or not their disco ball is going to be delivered. It eventually does, albeit covered in blood.

There’s a lot of blood; forget buckets--there’s entire vats of the stuff flowing through Sweatshop. It’ll take a while (it’ll feel like an hour, but in reality it’s probably half that), but it’ll be clear where everyone’s heart (and most of the flick’s budget) was at when making this: the ridiculous death scenes. These sequences serve as a gory oasis in a desert of disinteresting morass, and they’re certainly the only reason I’ll (barely) recommend watching this. With its appropriately squishy, gooey, and (most importantly) practical effects work, Sweatshop at least gets this part right, even if it is somewhat hampered by the frantic editing style. In many cases, the only thing that’s more chopped up than the cast is the footage itself (as if the seizure-inducing rave stuff weren’t bad enough). But what you can see is pretty spectacular: complete body severances, head crushings, and decapitations await, among other things.

Is there any rhyme or reason to this nonsense? No, not really. The flick doesn’t even have the common courtesy to offer up some absurd explanation for why there’s a behemoth with a penchant for killing ravers. My guess is that he’s just as annoyed by them as I was. Even more befuddling are his mutant companions, who are like a ravenous wet-haired Asian ghost girls on meth (that’s the story I’m rolling with, anyway). I suppose to be such a low-budget production, we should be impressed with the somewhat impressive design, as the whole thing is slick and polished. It’s also just very boring whenever we’re stuck with the characters, save for one time when a couple of brothers share a tender moment before their imminent deaths. Dirty secrets are revealed which culminate with one professing his love for the other before they go to hell. Oh, and he’s sorry that he got a blow job from his wife. I howled at how silly it all was.

Anyway, I imagine a real horror movie with this setting would be a documentary detailing the poor treatment of actual sweatshop workers who work for like 9 cents so we can live in luxury. Actually, wouldn’t that have been a decent set-up for this? I guess it would have gotten in the way of all the raving. If you want to see this (and extreme gore hounds need only apply), Screen Media will be releasing it to DVD on September 13th, where it gets a fine presentation. With the exception of the opening sequence (which regurgitates the grimy, vomit-inspired aesthetic of Saw), this is a pretty vivid film, and the transfer reflects that. The audio track is stereo, but it's really loud so you won't miss any of the nu-metal/raver beats. Bonus features include a photo gallery, art gallery, a motion comic, and a film-maker commentary. If you've somehow exhausted your quota of seeing idiots getting butchered in awesomely horrific fashion, check it out because that's the one thing Sweatshop gets very right (as it happens, it's the only thing it needs to get right, honestly). Rent it!

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