For a proper satire to work, one has to recognize the longevity of the joke at hand so that it avoids an overstayed welcome. The best spoof movies are subtle yet assertive, balancing in-your-face comedy with toned-down antics that penetrate slowly over time, and The Editor does all of that while mixing in Giallo-grade death scenes spraying gallons of juicy blood – for about two thirds of the film.
There’s so much hilarity and rather pitch-perfect commentary on old-school Italian schlock cinema, complete with off-center dubbing and purposefully unstomachable acting, yet as filmmakers Adam Brooks and Matthew Kennedy dole out a barrage of face-slapping and throat-slitting, the proverbial dead horse finds itself being beaten to an unrecognizable pulp. There are laughs to be shared with The Editor, in fact there are some downright classic horror moments, but an unfortunate daze starts to creep in about halfway through, and our patience starts running thin – a possibly avoidable fate had “The Editor” himself chopped some excess weight from Brooks and Kennedy’s comedic homage.
Rey Ciso (Adam Brooks) was once the greatest film editor in all the land, but after egotistically accepting a job offer to edit the world’s longest film, his life slowly spirals out of control. His marriage sours, his work suffers, and he caps the horrendous event off by accidentally severing four of his own fingers while on the job. Reduced to nothing, Rey starts working for a low-budget studio churning out hacky efforts where quality means nothing, which is mundane enough until a string of murders occur at the studio. With Rey being pegged as the prime suspect, Officer Peter Porfiry (Matthew Kennedy) leads an investigation with mystery around every turn, but is the crippled editor really responsible for the bodies piling up around the cut-rate movie studio?
The Editor assembles all the pieces required to construct a punchy, funny Giallo-inspired mystery, which is why the film starts off like an infectious cult classic. As we gain our bearings and grasp an understanding tone, a rather riotous screenplay zips around with the same bumbling jump-cuts found in the lackkluster productions that Brooks and Kennedy aim to mock.
Be it Rey’s horrible comprehension of the English language, shouting “Honey, I’m in our home!” upon greeting his wife Josephine (Paz de la Huerta), or the endless foreshadowing comments meant to be painfully obvious, the Manborg guys build the worst movie possible in the best of ways. Going as far as to overdub their own film, the Giallo references span farther than the garbage being shot throughout, but nothing beats Rey reacting to a “cigarette burn” that pops up while he’s having a single-character reaction scene. When on point, The Editor is damn near infallible.
Problems arise when the same jokes are found to be on a recurring loop, as a constant stream of psychotic comedy finds itself falling flatter and flatter. The first reaction to Porfiry’s slap-happy nature is nothing short of a booming belly laugh, but as the film drags on and faces are slapped without mercy, each stinging hit looses its shock value. The same goes for Rey’s bad dialogue, hopeful Hollywood stud Cal Konitz’s (Sweeney) overacting, and a host of other gags that are more poignant upon their initial delivery. Clocking in around 105 minutes, the final acts feel disproportionally longer than a beginning that zooms by sporting a jokey, raunchy B-Movie understanding. Even Paz de la Huerta finds herself losing traction, despite being one of the most consistently keyed-in performers throughout Rey’s editorial crisis.
As the story crumbles beneath its own satirical weight, gore remains a constant savior amidst an otherwise scareless horror show. If you’ve seen Father’s Day or Manborg, then all the finger-chopping, face-ripping, belly-slashing, organ-tearing obscenities shouldn’t come as a surprise. These guys always bring a Troma-tic level of outlandish gore to their projects, and The Editor splices together another brutal showing of vicious murders that bear a striking resemblance to 80s-style practical effects where dummies and props couldn’t be more obviously unhidden. These details hone the period aspect of blowing up a prosthetic head then dubbing over the sound of rotting fruit being smash on the ground, finding a “schlock cinema” vibe with little effort. But pretty pictures can only distract so long.
The Editor is trashy, artfully exploitative fun at first glance, but as Rey finds himself falling deeper into a murderous mystery claiming the lives of Z-grade movie talents, we find ourselves less and less engrossed. Hacked-up bodies, a hauntingly groovy Goblin-esque soundtrack and pretty ladies can only get a horror movie so far, and while proper respect is paid to one of the genre’s most gratuitously enjoyable subgenres, a consistent level of lovable roasting can’t quite find proper footing. If I were rating The Editor on the first half alone, it’d probably be getting an almost perfect score, but a steady decline starts to challenge our attention just as the lackluster projects being subjected to such lampooning once did.
Even with that said, I’m still going to recommend you watch The Editor if “The Room mixed with over-the-top gore and a hint of Cronenberg” sounds like your thing, because there’s a large coalition of people out there who will spend the film’s entirety laughing like hyenas, and there’s no doubt Brooks and Kennedy will find their audience on this one.