The Theta Girl Movie Review
Written by Becky Roberts
Produced by Barron Perter Productions
Directed by Christopher Bickel
Written by David Axe
2017, 98 minutes, Not Rated
Released on July 26th, 2018
Victoria Elizabeth Donofrio as Gayce
Shane Silman as Brother Marcus
Darelle D. Dove as Derek
When you think that the budget behind some of last year’s theatrical genre fare – IT, Alien: Covenant and Mother! – was in the seven-figure region, you might perhaps have little faith in a horror made on a shoestring one of just $14,000. I mean c’mon, even Sharknado ate around $2m.
But, naturally, some production polishing aside, expectations need not be managed upon learning such context, as The Theta Girl triumphs as a lovingly crafted and well thought out homage to trashy ‘80s exploitation B-movies.
When Gayce (Victoria Elizabeth Donofrio) – a dogged go-getter who deals a hallucinogenic drug called ‘theta’ to the nightclub audience of her friends’ rock band – discovers that her homeless friend has been murdered, she becomes determined to track down his perpetrator.
But what begins as an unremarkable manhunt quickly takes a trippy turn as Gayce becomes embroiled in a psychedelic, pornographic, existentialist otherworld with Bible-bashing reprobates led by Brother Marcus (Shane Silman). Yep, be prepared for weird.
So there’s narrative, genre-bending ambition, and better yet a commitment to the no-budget, indie-gem tribute in everything from the nightclub’s sound engineer wearing a “don’t fuck with the sound guy” t-shirt, and Gayce’s wonderful exclamation “shut up about destroying the world, it’s not cool”, to the gritty cinematography and the unrelenting splatterfest that it dares to be.
As writer David Axe and director Christopher Bickel foresaw in their Indiegogo campaign (out of which this film was born), ‘it's going to be an extremely tight budget for a film that has a lot of practical effects and a ton of stuff getting broken.’ And if a penny went to waste, it was only in the on-set coffee machine. Despite its modest budget, the last thing The Theta Girl does is shy away from gore (and pornography), with much of the well-choreographed carnage savored in lingering shots and close-ups as the death count rolls into the uncountable.
But while it snowballs into a mad revenge story with as much bludgeoning as all-nighter on Whac-A-Mole, it’s not without the odd pull or two on the ridiculous reigns to surface our protagonist’s heartfelt struggle of loss and self-discovery.
And the masterstroke? Matt Akers’ original soundtrack, which plays up the punk to 11 with its ever-present onslaught of wobbling synth grooves, pulsating techno beats and piano arpeggios, and which you immediately want to own on vinyl.
Quite frankly, The Theta Girl is one to look out for. It's no less than a triumph for Axe and Bickel’s feature debut, and an even greater one for low-budget genre filmmaking.
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