Razors: The Return of Jack the Ripper
Dirs. Ian Powell & Karl Ward
What if someone had discovered the knives used by Jack the Ripper? What if those cruelly glinting blades then went missing? And what if the Ripper came back into our world to once again mutilate and massacre? These are the tantalising questions that form the premise of atmospheric independent horror Razors, the first in a new series of forthcoming films set to explore the bloody exploits of one of the world’s most mysterious serial killers. It tells of enigmatic film professor Robert Wise (Thomas Thoroe) who gathers a group of young screenwriters at a sinister Victorian warehouse in the heart of London to work on the ultimate horror film. Amongst the assembled group is troubled screenwriter Ruth (Kelby Keenan) who believes she has discovered the actual knives used by Jack the Ripper. When the knives go missing and it appears the spirit of the Ripper roams free, the young screenwriters must unlock the building’s dark secrets and unravel mysteries from their own pasts if they are to survive…
With a group of characters exploring their fears to write the ‘definitive’ horror film, various ghostly happenings and the shadowy presence of a Mephistophelian movie producer, Powell and Ward don’t skimp on intriguing ideas as they set the stage for an atmospheric bloodbath. The notion of a group of writers challenging one another to pen the ultimate horror story while feeding their imaginations with nightmarish tales, echoes the events of that ‘wet, ungenial summer’ by Lake Geneva that inspired Mary Shelley to write Frankenstein. Aspects of Wes Craven’s Scream also surface throughout Razors as the young screenwriters comment on the conventions and mores of their favourite types of horror films, ranging from subtle ghost stories and graphic gore-fests, to the eerie sensuality of Gothic vampire films. References to the likes of classic chillers such as The Haunting and The Legend of Hell House abound, as the characters realise they have all been carefully selected for the project.
Cinematographer Alessio Valori carefully lights each scene using mainly candles, torches and onscreen sources of light, and the limited budget and dark locations actually work to the filmmakers’ advantage, as they help conjure a creepy, claustrophobic air. Striking imagery, including horror staples such as creepy dolls and little ghost girls, is rife throughout, and Razors eventually follows a familiar formula as the group are violently picked off one by one while exploring their foreboding surroundings. The screenplay offers a plethora of interesting ideas, and cerebral dialogue between various characters serves up real food for thought as they discuss such concepts as the beauty of horror, the nature of fear, the current state of horror cinema and what attracts individuals to such subject matter. With deliberate pacing the directors take their time to establish atmosphere and it’s clear they aren’t interested in just producing another run-of-the-mill body-count film. As the screenplay enters an increasingly Gothic realm of hidden chambers and bloody secrets, Powell and Ward establish a curious mythos which will hopefully be explored in further instalments of the series.
Razors is a creepy little art-house chiller with ambitious ideas and moments of visceral intensity.