VOD film review: Raze
Heads caved in8
Andrew Jones | On 19, Jun 2014
Director: Josh C. Waller
Cast: Zoë Bell, Doug Jones, Rachel Nichols and Rebecca Marshall
Watch Raze online in the UK: Amazon Prime / Apple TV (iTunes) / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / TalkTalk TV / Google Play
We open with a mystery: a young woman lying on the floor of a red-lit room, flashing back to last night, when she had a date, ran a bath, called up a girlfriend, but somehow she ended up in this location. As she walks around, she sees another woman. Seemingly, they are in the same boat. They walk around the compound looking for answers and an exit. Then, the other woman puts her dukes up and caves the young female’s face in. This is not the last time someone does this in Raze.
Raze is a dark action thriller set in an underground private prison complex, wherein women are forced to fight one another to the death. If they lose, their loved ones are killed. Only one will survive the seven-day ritual, some sort of cult test of will overseen by creepy Joseph (Jones). The explanation of why women are being forced to fight is flimsy. So it is a good job that the action in Raze is as strong as it is.
The bulk of the film sees our protagonist, Sabrina (Bell), dealing with her situation after caving that woman’s face in in the prologue, making connections with some of the others, and trying not to let antagonist Phoebe (Marshall) wind her up the wrong way. Phoebe being the alpha woman, loving every kill, she embraces the satisfaction of taking life, then screams about her antics to intimidate everyone. The others are trying to work together, but Phoebe is one crazy gal ready to fight and wanting to win in the most gruesome ways possible.
It is a shame that this long middle segment feels very repetitive; characters names appear on screen telling us who is fighting whom, we hear some bones crunch, they cry, we see their loved ones being watched, then it’s on to the next fight. If the writing were half-way decent, it might at least work, but, alas, it is all too surface-level in pace, character and dialogue. The film is only saved from tedium through the action sequences and the choreography.
About 70 minutes in, however, things hit Act Three levels of crazy and all of a sudden, the film seems to change everything up. The final third is bloody, brutal and emotionally charged, the latter being what was lacking in the first half, and brings out Zoë Bell in the best ways possible; she is a potent action performer and has skills that really do pay the bills. The elongated end set piece is a cracker, well handled and nicely violent.
If this were the 80s, you could imagine Raze being a Cynthia Rothrock-type joint. It is a straight-to-video action thriller down to its core; great action, poor script, skating along with bloody fists leading the charge. Raze needs a little more focus, but when its back is against the wall and the end is in sight, the film puts up one heck of a fight – and manages to smash a fair amount of faces in the process.
Raze is available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video as part of a Prime membership or a £5.99 monthly subscription.