Widely heralded as one of the best horror films of the last two years, and highly recommended to us by more than a few of our own dear readers, including one who very kindly purchased the DVD (independent of the filmmakers or anyone involved, mind you) specifically to send us for review, Pieces of Talent – the latest film from Shutter Blade Films and director Joe Stauffer – was most certainly well promoted. But did it live up to all the hype? Read on to see for yourselves!
Pieces of Talent tells the story of Charlotte (played by Kristi Ray), a young strip club waitress and aspiring actress who is trying to follow her dreams while holding down a job and caring for her deadbeat, alcoholic mother who is living with her. One night after witnessing a man badly beaten by a bouncer in the back alley of the club she works at, she takes him out of there in his van, and does what she can to help him. After he awakens, she learns his name is David Long (played by David Long “as himself”) and he is a filmmaker.
What she doesn’t know, however, is that David is also a violent serial killer, and the films he makes are snuff films.
As their blooming relationship develops, David continues his bizarre killing spree, all leading up to casting Charlotte as his leading lady. Thus begins a hellish, surreal journey into the depths of madness and horror; one that will never leave Charlotte the same. What happens next? Well, you’ll just have to watch and find out for yourself.
From a technical standpoint, the film itself is very, very good. Like, ridiculously good given the limited budget. The camerawork is absolutely masterful, capturing some of the most stunningly beautiful shots this writer has seen in any film in quite some time. The editing is excellent, blending in very amateur-looking “found footage” clips and “short art films” courtesy of our main antagonist, as well as masterful, and exceptionally grotesque glimpses into David’s own deranged mind, and the acting all comes across as very natural, avoiding any of the “fake/forced” sounding stuff many viewers tend to expect with an indie release.
Unfortunately, the film is also very, very hard to follow at times. The story seems disjointed, difficult to really understand, and a little too random and experimental to allow the casual viewer to ride along and get invested. More often than not, you may find yourself scratching your head, trying to process exactly what’s going on here. This may or may not have been “the point” but it doesn’t make it any easier to swallow, or understand beyond the very obvious fact that this is one hellish, gruesome, weird ride through hell. Make no mistake: this one will likely take a couple viewings, and a fair amount of analyzation.
The Bottom Line:
Overall, Pieces of Talent is a beautiful disaster of a film. It’s an absolute technical masterpiece that’s cursed with the fact that it just doesn’t make that much sense, and isn’t particularly easy to follow or understand. Hardcore horror fans will love the bizarre tension, gore, and terror throughout, and film geeks will salivate at how well-made this was, but casual viewers and those really big on writing may want to avoid it. It’s hit or miss, although quite possibly the best-made film this writer has ever used that term in a review of. — 7.0/10
Editor: Nerd Nation Magazine