In "Raw Cut," destitute former trust-fund baby Jack (Christopher Soren Kelly) and wife Amanda (C. Ashleigh Caldwell) arrive on the Wyoming ranch of their nouveau riche college pal Adam (Daniel Ponickly) and his oversexed sugar baby Stephanie (Zoe Quist). The reunion turns out to be a mere salvo for principal photography on Stephanie's thesis film, in which the old friends star pro bono.
The film-within-a-film is a sketchy found-footage-style horror flick involving two adventure video bloggers attacked by hillbillies à la "Deliverance." The fact that these amateurs improvise without a script doesn't strike anyone — the characters as well as moviegoers — as alarming as it ought to.
Most horror films and thrillers lay the groundwork early on so the audience spends the remainder dreading the inevitable. But halfway through, "Raw Cut" has already debunked an early foreshadowing as a false lead. The most suspenseful plot element for much of its duration is the notice of foreclosure that Jack and Amanda receive via email. Clues of a potential killer emerge only after 45 minutes, and no pathology is ever established.
Aside from the film's double-entendre title and typical slasher-movie poster, director Quist and screenwriter Ponickly have given us nothing to fear. As actors, they monotonously rush through their lines as if at a table read. The result feels more like a sitcom without canned laughter than anything else.
MPAA rating: None
Running time: 1 hour, 23 minutes.
Playing: At Downtown Independent, Los Angeles.