We've never had it so good. Within a couple of mouse clicks almost any cherished, hallowed or rare horror film you can imagine can be located and ordered on DVD from somewhere in the world. Sure, not every transfer is great, but at least we can get hold of what we want, when we want.

In a way, we've never had it so bad. Time was when tracking down a rare or uncut movie was a sort of detective game, mixed with the thrill of hoping your package wouldn't be seized by customs officers intent on tripping you at the last hurdle. I remember watching Texas Chainsaw Massacre for the first time on an Nth generation copy VHS, filled with static and crackle, on a tiny fourteen inch portable. It almost felt like how the film was meant to be watched - A secretive, grubby experience that matched the movie. Now, there are so few secrets. Most of the Rare Stuffs and lost classics have been discovered down the back of the celluloid sofa. With a few notable exceptions, most stuff not intended for the R18 market gets past the censor's now-emasculated plastic scissors. It wasn't so many years ago that we'd scour bargain bins for those few accidentally uncut copies of Ms. 45 on VHS or watch through each official release with anticipation that a long cut scene would have slipped through somehow. Now, it's all there - A smorgasbord of guts, grue and wobbly boobies for us greedy fans to feast upon, pre-prepared, pre-packaged and with previous cuts restored.

To be honest, I'm not really complaining. Maybe the current state of affairs has taken some of the fun out of locating the nasties, but I wouldn't have it any other way. And perhaps it's because we now have access to such a wide variety of previously forbidden movies that it's even more exciting when a genuine lost gem is glimpsed hidden in some dusty archive. Just reading David Kerekes' excellent account of his fascination with the mysterious Last House On Dead End Street in Headpress 23 (which is a vital addition to any self respecting fan's collection) and his tracking down of the people behind the movie is more gripping to me than any number of page-turning thrillers.

Resurrecting The Streetwalker pretty much takes the (very loose) basis of David Kerekes' quest, mixes in some of the myth and rumour behind Dead End Street, and turns it into a fictional documentary account of obsession and retribution. James Parker, a young and struggling filmmaker, is working as a runner for a production company while his friend makes a documentary about his progress. Put upon, mocked and bullied by those better paid and with better prospects, James is intent on proving himself by any means necessary. When he stumbles upon reels containing a lost and forgotten horror called The Streetwalker, James sees this as his one chance to even knock upon the door of success. He's given permission to start work on reconstructing the film, even to film the unfinished portions, but the more James watches the footage, the more he's convinced that not everything is right. Something seems a little too cruel - too real - about what's going on. James finds himself on an obsessive mission to uncover the facts behind the movie whilst he pieces together his version of what he suspects may be the only copy of a snuff movie in existence.

There's a lot to admire about this film. The central premise is actually quite interesting and does move in some original directions, even if the "uh oh, is this a snuff movie?" story has been done a few times before. The sequences from the discovered Streetwalker movie look great, mirroring the sleaze, grime and sadistic torture that films like Dead End Street are famous for. These "found" scenes are given a deliberately dirty look and although they look a little too shiny new to have languished in a low-budget vault for decades, they're quite believable. On the whole, the performances from a largely unknown cast are very good. Any problems come with some slightly clunky dialogue which doesn't always fit comfortably in the actors' mouths and pulls the viewer out of the experience.

This is one of the big problems with Resurrecting The Streetwalker - all too often it fails to connect and engage. While the conceit of one filmmaker documenting the struggles of another works well enough, many of the big twists and reveals are heralded far too obviously and far too early on in proceedings. Without wanting to give anything away, I'd be surprised is many viewers didn't find the climactic events a shock mainly due to which characters do and don't feature in the interviews that pepper the course of events. Despite looking like it might turn down an unexpected side street near the end, the film plods on down a well trodden path and, as we know none of this is actually real, the ending lacks any real impact.

Here's the big problem with fake documentaries; it's very hard to make them shocking or scary once the audience knows what they're seeing isn't real unless you convince them to totally suspend disbelief and start playing on primal psychological fears. Blair Witch did this by constantly using the expectation of something suddenly appearing out of the darkness. Paranormal Activity used oppressive special effects on people sleeping and at their most vulnerable. Streetwalker doesn't do anything like that. It feels like it reaches into the magician's hat only to pull out its hand and say "look - an invisible rabbit!" In taking a very traditional documentary format - interviews intercut with footage of events and clips of the movie - the film isn't as immersive as the "first person" handheld wobblecam of the other films mentioned, or even something like Cloverfield (which might sound a bit more damning than it's intended to). To be fair, that sort of style of filmmaking wouldn't really work with the story this film is trying to tell. What we have here is more like The Last Broadcast's format, only slightly more sedate. Although a central mystery is set up here, it's a bit too familiar for its barbs to hook the viewer effectively.

However, Streetwalker is effective as a portrait of obsession and desperation leading to dangerous ground. This is the most interesting aspect of the story, as James is mistreated by those above him who feel threatened by his drive and potential talent. It's not difficult to understand why the events unfold as they do, or to see the path James is inevitably heading towards. Perhaps if the movie had taken a different format, maybe even structured itself more as a traditional narrative, the end result would have been more effective. I was really disappointed by this film - There's a lot of talent on display, and it's an ambitious first feature from a director who's clearly got some good ideas under his scalp. I really liked the core idea, but felt a sense of growing familiarity with each minute that passed. In the end, the film went exactly where I expected, showed me what I'd already guessed and didn't give me enough reason to care. Maybe it's the format. Maybe it's because the film tells a story I've heard once too often. Maybe I'm just a jaded old grumpy sod who's getting far too cynical now his hair's started to turn grey. I get the feeling that some of you will disagree enormously with me on this review - I can certainly acknowledge that this film WILL work for some folk, and I'll be very glad to hear that it does. Director / Writer Ozgur Uyanik clearly stands on the crossroads of a potentially very interesting career. Let's hope the street he chooses to walk leads to richer and more fascinating areas.

Review by Paul Bird

Released by Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment
Region 2 - PAL
Rated 18
Extras :
see main review