Thatcher Productions // 2007 // 58 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Bill Gibron // May 4th, 2007
Homemade Horse Hokey from the Country That Gave Us Yahoo Serious.
Having spent nearly five years in pursuit of a mysterious masked murderer, Officer Andrew Williams (Andrew Thatcher) has had to retire from the police force. Though the case is closed (it was supposedly resolved when a nut job named Pedro Pasqual was caught violating the body parts of a victim), Williams still believes the killer is on the loose. It is causing undue strife in his marriage, and is making his life a living hell. He can't sleep at night and suffers from depression. When a newly assigned detective asks Williams to help him re-open the case, the shattered man agrees. Soon, the trail leads back to Pedro and the mental hospital that held him during his sentence (he was found not guilty by reason of insanity). But clues are hard to come by, and the fiend seems intent on drawing Williams deeper and deeper into his own sick perversions. Will the police be able to stop this unhinged horror, or will the Cerebral Sin captured inside this psycho's brain outwit the dedicated detectives?
Cerebral Sin is unintelligent twaddle. It represents the highly amateurish efforts of a bunch of deluded Australian artists. The people behind this production, who advertise themselves as capable cameramen, actors, stunt people, and screenwriters, are in truth so disconnected from the world of mainstream moviemaking that it's frightening. In fact, they're light years from even being competent homemade hacks. This is not meant to be mean -- it's meant to function as a bubble-bursting wake-up call. After suffering through a little less than an hour of this rancid, ridiculous serial killer tripe, after witnessing an additional group of semi-literate shorts, the conclusion one draws is crystal clear -- Andrew Thatcher and his pals are incapable of creating cinema. What they can make is a true and unadulterated mess. From the jumpy, jittery camerawork to the lax sound recording, uber-lame special effects, and overall lack of professionalism, one gets the distinct feeling of watching teenagers farting around with a camcorder. This excuse for entertainment makes your grandmother's poorly framed and constantly out-of-focus movies from her trip to Latvia look like Citizen "Friggin" Kane.
In a long line of outsider auteurs, Mr. Thatcher rates right at the bottom. Chris Seaver is Stanley Kubrick compared to this Down Under dud. The Campbells become the Coens when matched up against the unskilled lens laborer. Even a notorious Tinseltown tragedy like Dr. Uwe Boll can at least make something watchable. But in the world of Cerebral Sin, concepts like focus, smooth editing transitions, continuity, and overall creative approach are all but forgotten. Instead, a bunch of hoary old cliches are tossed around, with anything inventive or novel relegated to offhand mistakes made by the cast and/or crew. For example, the character of the forensics scientist, given the task of deciphering the handwriting on one of the killer's notes, is seen in his "office" -- which turns out to be a concrete trough in an open field. Huh? Similarly, a conversation between Thatcher's police detective character and a hacker friend occurs in what looks like a drained aqueduct. None of the performances even come close to mimicking their real-life counterparts. When Thatcher and his partner end up in a firefight with the killer, they wave their guns around like kids playing cops and robbers. They even emphasize their discharge with a five-year-old's flick of the wrist. All that's missing is the "pew-pew" sound coming out of their mouths (we get bad digital sound effects instead).
The biggest problem here, however, is how none of this even begins to work. The cast is completely ineffectual, mumbling their dialogue in half-spoken sputters, attempting emotion through increasing and decreasing their vocal volume levels. Scenes smash into each other without matching in action or intent. During the so-called action sequences, fistfights contain a beige-belt level of martial arts realism and the overall look is dim, dour, and dank. As a matter of fact, Cerebral Sin's only saving grace may be its complete lack of aptitude. Fans of films without a single redeeming factor may think this so bad it's good, but the truth is that it's so depressingly horrible that it's merciless. If the horrendous soundtrack songs aren't grating on your nerves with rejects from the worst that home-grown musicianship and recording has to offer, then the illogical discussions and derivative narrative will have you in agony. While this all may seem like pointless criticism of a group of people who are at least trying, the true intention of this review can be summed up in a single sentence. If Cerebral Sin is supposed to indicate the level of proficiency and ability that Andrew Thatcher and his crew can muster, then it is clear that they are virtually unemployable.
Granted, the DVD screener presented to this site for review is in no way a reflection of any kind of final product, but one thing's for sure -- there'll need to be a whole lot of remastering done to make this terrible transfer visually acceptable. The cheapness of the image, perhaps the result of some decidedly low-end technology, is inescapable. There is fuzziness, grain, white-outs, brash interior/exterior transitions, roughness, faded colors, and lax contrasts throughout. This doesn't even address the framing and compositional issues. Then there is the sound. Overly compressed, and lacking any semblance of mood-enhancing ambiance, the aural presentation here will be really rough on your ears. Conversations are indistinguishable from the ambient noise captured by the camcorder, and the internal mic just loves to pick up and amplify the rather windy conditions in Australia. As for extras, a trailer was offered, as well as a separate DVD-R loaded with shorts. Again, this may not represent the manner in which this digital package eventually sees the light of day, but the four mini-movies featured here are just as bad as the main feature. One is another crappy battle royale between two hitmen, while one represents a rip-off of Carrie. We see a trio of supernatural ghostbusters, and are finally faced with someone who only has 48 hours to live. Each one is a true test of a viewer's patience.
Maybe someday, Thatcher and his merry band of misfits will make something that resembles a real-life motion picture. They might even be capable of something memorable. But as of now, Cerebral Sin is guilty of a level of failure outrageous in its carelessness. It is nothing but needless.
DVD Verdict offers independent filmmakers an opportunity to have their work showcased and critiqued by the same writers who cover mainstream studio releases. We do not seek out these films, but provide this as a service to established and aspiring creative professionals whose work is so often overlooked by the general film-going public. All we ask is that they provide us with what they consider to be final product along with any press materials to support the picture. Following the publication of this review, we received emails from producer/director Andrew Thatcher, as well as many of his colleagues, friends, and family opposed to Judge Bill Gibron's take on the film. As we've done with past disputed cases, we offered Andrew an opportunity to rebut the review. Presented here is his unedited response:
I feel the review by 'Judge' Bill is not a fair or unbiased review (it is a review that clearly does not represent the quality or proffessional nature a judge should have).
With attitudes like this it will be just a matter of time before the impending extinction of the cheesy, campy, guilty pleasures of watching an amateur film. Judge Bill seems to have a personal vendetta against me, my crew, my musicians and even Australians in general! Such a review could either be laughed off or may actually ruin any potential our carreers had of taking off in the future.
Cerebral Sin should not be compared to star driven, heavily publicized, expensive Hollywood productions.
This movie was made on a shoe string budget yet it still has a quality concept, props, acting and locations ( the statement made about the forensics office being a field is obviously an example of Judge Bills lack of attention as the 'field' was a crime scene ). It is not a representation of the potential we have for a proffessional film as this movie was not meant to have a professional look ( however i will like to add that the copy DVD Verdict recieved was a rough edit and is not the same the final DVD ).
The film intentionally has a cam-corder feel this was to give a grainy look and feel that gives the movie a natural atmosphere, i do not think it is as camera work or deiting is as bad as he claims nor do we deserve his comments of not even being '.. capable movie hacks' or saying this movie proves we 'are virtually unempolyable' such insults not only damage our reputation and are very close to being considered defamation but i belive they also show Judge Bill's unproffessional behaviour - he does though try and make it sound like he is basing his statements on actual criteria however this is clearly not the case and im sure he hasnt fooled anyone.
We are an amateur film company, we are not proffessionals just people who love film and have tried to put together something that audiences will enjoy.
For all you readers : If you would like to see for yourself the quality of the movie and of Thatcher Productions work visit www.cerebralsin.wetpaint.com and www.thatcherproductions.wetpaint.com .If you have found the review given by Judge Bill to be unfair and would actually like to see Cerebral Sin for yourself i am willing to give you a free copy of Cerebral Sin (excluding postage and handling) hopefully this encourages other amateur movie makers to stand up for what you believe in, dont be bullied and never give up !
Thanks you for your time.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Thatcher Productions
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 58 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Official Site