Cinema Epoch // 2006 // 72 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // February 22nd, 2007
This is no ordinary nip and tuck.
A homegrown movie three years in the making. An insane plastic surgeon who carves up victims and gives their body parts to his deformed daughter. A simple cab driver's rise to heroism. This is Bit Parts.
The film tells the story of the diabolical Cranston family. Lorded over by the evil Dr. Cranston (Christopher Page), a mentally unstable plastic surgeon, the family has gone wacko since a car accident hideously disfigured the daughter Maggie (Michelle Angel). So Dr. Cranston has turned to luring wannabe young actresses with promises of film roles, then murdering them and harvesting their body parts to graft on his daughter.
The most recent victim is Melissa Martin (Molly Fix), who's run away from home seeking stardom. She answers Dr. Cranton's ad and immediately finds herself tied up in his torture chamber, waiting to be sliced and diced. Meanwhile, Melissa's sister Brenda (Sarah Gordon), has taken to the streets to track down her sister and, teaming up with feisty cab driver Bobby (Dave Reda, who also directed), she launches a full-on campaign to spring her sister from the grips of a family of psychos.
Bit Parts sounds pretty good on paper, and I dug the subversive take on Hollywood, but what hung up the film was its run-in-place story progression. It's a short feature, running about 10 minutes north of an hour, but when those 70 or so minutes expired; I wasn't entirely sure what had transpired. I know I sat down and used my eyeballs to watch a DVD, but the circumstances of how the time passed...that's a mystery.
The film's not bad and in fact sports an interesting gimmick and some above-average acting. It's just that, well, nothing much happens. Melissa is scooped up right away at the beginning and spends the rest of the film hanging by her hands in Dr. Cranston's lab screaming and gurgling. Dr. Cranston cackles and spouts typical psycho-talk while cutting into some prosthetics. The real thrust of the story lies with Bobby and Brenda's investigations, but, again, not much happens. They ask people some questions, pretend they're FBI agents, run around a bit, and finally piece together the solution of the mystery with obvious clues (hint: victims respond to the same acting advertisements, which, weirdly, require no prior experience, yet accentuates the need for specific body parts...how curious). As noted, the action picks up significantly at the end with the big smackdown, and Dr. Cranston meets his end quite inventively. It's a good capper, but the experience running up to the climax felt too much like treading water: work was being done, but not much was happening.
The gore effects are well-done considering the budget, though not overwhelming; Bit Parts is more a psychological horror flick than a parade of gross-out gags. The actors do well in their roles, especially Reda and Gordon who exude a solid on-screen chemistry.
So to sum, Bit Parts has a pretty neat concept and there some entertaining moments and the acting is good, but the film's pacing is stilted and the actually story is vapid. Consider it a mélange of Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Hostel and a Hardy Boys adventure of your choosing.
The video: a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen in varying degrees of low-budget quality. The audio: a front-loaded 5.1 Dolby Digital. The extras: Reda delivers a lively commentary and a local news interview on the film accompanies in the bonus bin.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Cinema Epoch
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 72 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Director's Commentary
* NBC Interview