It’s no secret that I love a good horror with a soupçon of f history and humour thrown in to offer levity. As a writer myself, if I were offered an opportunity such as we find in the film I just devoured with glee, there is little doubt that I would willingly immerse myself into the situation with little concern for what may be haunting the location. But that is me. Imagine, the darkened stairwells and hallways, walls lit by firelit torches that throw meager light for the group of young writers that are trooping ever downward into a Victorian era building that has seen better days. The walls whisper and barely audible over the sounds of your footsteps, the lilting voice of a young girl singing a nursery rhyme that is just creepy enough to send a chilly finger up your spine. Flashes of bloody hands and maniac howls punctuate the child’s lonely song.
Welcome to Razors – The Return of Jack the Ripper, a deliciously dark tale written and directed by Ian Powell and Karl Ward. This film was a delight to watch…twice. I submerged myself it the horror that they created with pleasure and a touch of trepidation. Not to worry, I will elaborate, but where to begin? I think the beginning is best. Jack the Ripper. Three words that ignite curiosity and have inspired many films and books regarding the brutal murder of five women in Victorian London. But what if it wasn’t five? What if there were more victims? Not much is truly known about this enigmatic serial murder, mostly speculation and perhaps literary licence. He has remained a salacious spirit of malice that remains in the shadows of our histories.
This brings us back to Razors. This film takes a unique twist on an old mystery hooked me early on with the line, “I just need someone to believe me.” These words, spoken by Ruth Walker (played by Kelby Keenen) are echoed throughout the film. Ruth, a young writer is challenged along with several other attendees, to write the ultimate horror movie during a writing workshop held in a deteriorating Victorian warehouse by the abstruse and charismatic screenwriter Prof. Richard Wise.
Razors begins with a couple lost in what appears to be a drug fueled nightmare, and nightmare it is, for both of them and for the dreamer. Her fellow writers, James, Zack, Denton, Sadie and Jane, arrive into true horror without knowing that the walls whisper and the shadows are truly able to kill. Ruth Walker, a young writer in possession of a script and a surely haunted piece of Murder Memorabilia, the Holy Grail of Horror, joins Wise and her colleagues with a box that she claims contains the knives used by Jack the Ripper. There are rules, of course. The box must never be opened lest it release the spirit of Jack and thus his recrudescence into our world.
Early on, you will notice small movements in the background shadows that marry nicely with the suspense. I found only once that it was too dark to see properly, otherwise the lighting is wonderfully done, and the use of firelight to add ambiance definitely appealed to this viewer. The dialogue well written and the flow was easy to keep pace with, as was the humour. Again, only once did I have an issue hearing the actors and that was when the words were drowned out by the sounds of their footsteps.
This film has some marvelous lines in it, some that are so eloquent that I had to rewind to listen again. For instance, “Horror must be balanced with beauty.” A nugget of truth that is exceedingly true in my eyes. I particularly enjoyed the little bits of homage paid to horror classics such as Nosferatu and the line, “Welcome home Eleanor,” made me laugh out loud. The cast was likeable and I found I was invested early into the story, lost in the world that these gentlemen have created, and voluntarily, I returned to watch again.
The one thing that was brilliantly done and honestly has me shuddering even still is the doll. when that child’s plaything made its appearance on the screen, I wrote in my notes exactly this “if that thing opens its eyes….” Those that know me know of my extreme dislike for dolls in general, and this one creeps me out so much more than Annabelle ever could. I won’t spoil the film for you, but I can tell you this much, I don’t think I will be sleeping much tonight.