Vague Visages’ That’s a Wrap review contains minor spoilers. Marcel Walz’s 2023 movie features Cerina Vincent, Monique Parent and Sarah French. Check out the VV home page for more film reviews, along with cast/character summaries, streaming guides and complete soundtrack song listings.
That’s a Wrap suffers from a series of self-owns. Director Marcel Walz successfully commits to excess with his 94-minute Giallo production; however, the unimaginative script feels highly formulaic and designed for a broad audience. As the first release for Walz’s new production company Neon Noir, That’s a Wrap — an independent horror film — would theoretically prioritize the core audience’s intellect, instead of trying to be the Scream (1996) of the Giallo sub-genre. Walz’s visual design will please hardcore horror fans, but the paper-thin industry commentaries, tasteless sexual humor and stock character cliches just may create the wrong type of buzz.
Walz, a prolific German director, begins That’s a Wrap with a strong opening sequence, one that celebrates the Giallo sub-genre while incorporating a well-known horror starlet in a cameo role (note: my cousin has a small yet significant part in the film). An actress named Alexis finishes a movie shoot but then gets attacked by a wig-wearing killer, shortly before a wrap party begins. From there, various cast members find trouble while an arrogant filmmaking auteur (Robert Donavan as Mason) pats himself on the back. Walz and cinematographer Marcus Friedlander accentuate purples, reds and blues right away, which organically establishes the mood during the cold open. In addition, some early wink-of-the-eye comedy informs viewers about the overall tone. That’s a Wrap arguably peaks with this impressive opening sequence, as Walz abandons his artistic vision in favor of algorithm-friendly dialogue.
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That’s a Wrap de-rails around the 21-minute mark. Walz essentially hands over the second act to screenwriters Joe Knetter and Robert L. Lucas, who deliver a series of hollow commentaries about the movie industry, from auteurism and the casting couch to personal brands and familiar actress complaints. Meanwhile, aggressive sexual humor and full frontal nudity betrays the overall messaging. “What the hell is going on?” I wrote in my notebook, unsure about what the filmmakers hoped to achieve by telling horror fans what they already know. Is this a troll job or simply uninspired writing? Whatever the case, Walz’s visual style is consistent.
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Approximately midway through That’s a Wrap, Walz directs a brilliant kill scene – one that’s Kubrickian, gory and extremely effective. Why wasn’t this style a constant throughout? Meaning, the various stock characters add little to the story as they address familiar industry topics without offering any solutions. Furthermore, a gay character who bonds with a Black stoner perpetuates the cliche that any straight man can easily be turned. That’s a Wrap’s screenwriters seemingly wrote for social media likes, rather than complementing Walz’s ideas behind the camera. It’s the kind of film that expects big laughs from meta sub-genre humor. The problem, however, is that Giallo fans — and especially long-time horror fans — will be able to read the playbook from minute one. A character even announces the final act in That’s a Wrap, not long before someone says “Time for the big reveal!” Horror fans deserve better.
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As an indie Giallo, That’s a Wrap fails to read the room. The film is structured around a party but devoid of party ambience. That’s a Wrap highlights Boss Girl dialogue but can’t find the time to say anything meaningful beyond surface-level messaging. Despite an impressive performance from actress Monique Parent, along with some memorable visual style from Walz, That’s a Wrap can’t get out of its own head. If a director builds a movie specifically for a Giallo crowd, then sub-genre fans will come running to the proverbial theatre. But if a filmmaker clumsily designs an indie Giallo for maximum reach, then a world of horror fans will quickly call out the lack of self-awareness.
That’s a Wrap released digitally on August 25, 2023 via Quiver Distribution.
Q.V. Hough (@QVHough) is Vague Visages’ founding editor.
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