Written and directed by J. Arcane, co-written by Paul Erskine, a group of estranged friends gather for a night of tradition which takes a deadly turn after old secrets and wounds resurface. Starring: Jack Wooton, Laura Sampson Hemingway, Logan Paul Price, Nicholas Tene, Dawson Mullen, Mia Heavner, Dexter Farren Haag, Tori Ellis, Carson Marquette, Aaron A. Reyes and Jay Torres.
There’s a surprisingly vague style to the way that The Razing opens, it moves slowly and doesn’t commit to a particular theme or emotion, playing its cards close to its chest. As it moves forward, it attempts to bring a vein of tension but it struggles to grasp a firm hold. The major reason for that is because it takes an especially long time to reveal its bigger story, so for a large part there simply isn’t enough context to let the moments hit with the suspense that it’s going for. It’s something that the story struggles with throughout, technically it’s actually trying to bring quite a lot to the table, with not only a complicated, sordid past but a strange, sci-fi style element which ultimately feels unnecessary. However, all of its key elements feel like they’re taking a backseat to extensive dialogue.
It then struggles to build and shape its story visually, you can see the intention from the directorial choices but they unfortunately fall flat. Largely due to a lot of irregular and awkward angle choices paired with an excessive use of blurring, which eventually becomes distracting. It’s decidedly trying to push the mystery to the plot but the pieces don’t come together, and the result is fairly bland. The way that the direction attempts to build an atmosphere while the story is still holding back makes it feel as though you’ve jumped into a story part way through and you’re missing information. It also has a tendency to try and bring a vein of eroticism into the mix but it doesn’t have the depth or intensity to pull that off, instead just slowing things down further.
Looking at the story as a whole, there was plenty of dark potential but because it takes a significant amount of time to reveal that side, there isn’t much for the actors to use. It creates the issue of that while the performances themselves are decent, there’s a big cast and each of them do their part well, they don’t really have any qualities or strong personalities to make them memorable. Jack Wooton gets the closest to something more tangible but at the same time his character is fairly by the book. Whereas Mia Heavner feels like she steps outside of the group’s dynamic allowing her to stand out, but there isn’t much time to build her character, instead she’s used as a piece to advance the plot.
The Razing attempts to do a lot but can’t bring it all together, resulting in something slow and unsatisfying. It drags its heels in revealing the story so much that there isn’t a lot to keep you plugged in and it can’t build up a successful suspense or tension without giving the audience more context. There’s quite a classic mystery, thriller foundation to the story but it gets distracted with trying to move back and forth in the timeline, and bringing through an edge of sci-fi and sex. It does have something but it’s not presented in the most effective way, if it had a better progression and fully embraced its dark themes, it could have been captivating.