The thing about Troma releases is that you have to be careful with what you watch. Sure, sometimes you'll get a fun little movie like "Class of Nuke 'em High" or "The Toxic Avenger", or a re-release like "Mad Dog Morgan" or "The Hanging Woman", but to get through that, you have to trudge through a lot of bullshit. Well, Adrian Santiago's debut feature length movie "Grim" isn't quite bullshit, but it doesn't hit the ball out of the park either.
When he was a child, Nicolis Grim (Jack Pinder) saw his parents murdered by Atticus Miller (Scott A. Mollette), Cutter (Brad Hartliep) and Romeo (Niko Red Star), only to be taken in as a child by a married couple. Now an adult (Christopher Dimrock), he is out for vengeance for the murder of his biological and foster parents, and he has three people in mind.
On paper, "Grim" seems like your standard, meat and potatoes revenge movie-except for two differences: 1.) It was made for $2,500, and 2.) it takes place in an America in which the fall of society has been brought forth by a complete economic collapse. This last part is interesting, and it's hard to fault Santiago for the ambition he stacks onto the film. Yet, for all the bloody violence (including a cringe inducing fingernail removal), mostly fine cinematography and all around great story, "Grim" ends up coming up short.
Why? Well for starters, the pacing for the film is off. This is a movie that tries a slow burn approach, but can't make up for it because the film is essentially "talk/kill/talk" throughout. It's also poorly choreographed, with scenes of violence either coming off as too staged or too clumsy for it's own good. Finally, the biggest flaw is the tone of the movie. Sure, the film lives up to it's title, but the actions that occur end up feeling like they are much ado about nothing, as it rarely feels like the actions of our character have any real weight to them. As it stands, it ends up being a film that lacks a feeling of purpose.
It's a shame too, because I appreciate that Santiago went for a no-budget film that strays away from the usual slashers and/or zombies fair that many of these movies are. Besides, he has another movie on the way, so maybe he'll show signs of improvement. Until then, this is a noble but ultimately too flawed first effort.
Also, It's now going to be four movies released by Troma getting the review treatment. Expect another one this weekend.