The Cutting Room is a Found Footage film that falls squarely in the realm of horror. Before the credits start rolling, the film starts with a Found Footage scene of a female bound and gagged on a table in what appears to be a torture/killing in progress. We don’t see what’s happening on camera, but descriptive sounds (and our imagination) fill in the rest. This initial scene sets the tone for where the film is headed.
The film starts with our three protagonists, Raz, Charlie, and Jess, who are college students in a film study class assigned to make a documentary for their final class project. The instructor says to the trio, “I want one of you filming the filming. I want to see DVD extras . . . behind the scenes extras” – this premise provides a solid reason as to why the camera never stops rolling. Many Found Footage films do not go the extra mile to provide this foundational information.
After some brainstorming, the group decides to film a documentary on cyber bullying. After some twists and turns, the group ultimately films a documentary on Rosa Clark, a student in their school who was reported missing several weeks earlier. From here we follow the trio on their adventure as they investigate the whereabouts of Rosa Clark, questioning her friends, immediate family, former boyfriend, and local authorities. As the group gets closer to the truth, things start to take a bad turn.
The Cutting Room provides a solid reason as to why the camera never stops rolling. Many Found Footage films do not go the extra mile to provide this foundational information.
The acting is good across the board – the three main characters have good chemistry with believable bantering amongst themselves, and the supporting cast does a good job as well. The cinematography was well shot, feeling unscripted and spontaneous as one would expect from ad hoc filming. One oddity I picked up on very early was that every scene ended with a clean fade-out rather than abruptly cutting to the next scene as one would expect from raw footage. Since the protagonists are filmmakers, I presume we are watching a final edited version of their raw footage, which lends credence to this approach. The Cutting Room has a solid ending, coming full circle with the beginning scene of the film.
The cinematography was well shot, feeling unscripted and spontaneous as one would expect from ad hoc filming.
Unfortunately, as the story starts to pick up the pace the film has a few issues. About 45 minutes into the film, the protagonists find themselves in an abandoned military barracks, where most of the latter part of the film takes place. At this point in the film, one of my Found Footage pet peeves kicks in; the filmmakers insert background incidental music during tense scenes. Up until this point in the story, the film is pure found footage and the addition of incidental music this late in the movie feels out of place and takes me out of the moment. While I understand that the incidental music is intended to ratchet up the tension for the viewer, I feel the music is out of place because it is introduced so late in the film.
One other minor criticism is that the scenes in the military barracks felt a bit drawn out and could have been tightened up with some additional editing. However, with a final runtime of 75 minutes (approximately 68 minutes if we exclude the opening and closing credits), a more tightly edited version may fall on the short side for a feature length film.
The Cutting Room has solid acting, a great premise, a good ending, but falls a bit short on the Found Footage scale. If I were watching this film strictly as a horror fan (rather than Found Footage), I would be more forgiving of the issues mentioned above.