Movie Review: “Die’ced”

   Die’ced is a film I don’t think I would normally write about on First and foremost, it was a film I went into not expecting to enjoy and I don’t usually watch films I don’t expect to enjoy. Frankly, I don’t like being mean to people.

On a larger scale, I am not into The Fast and the Furious movies, I have no interest in watching the Fast and the Furious movies, and thereby, I will most likely never write about them. Clearly, I would end up harping on the series, and what benefit would that serve you, the reader, or me, the reviewer? Clicks? I am good.

Likewise, while I am a fan of certain critics that do exactly this, I could never get behind the idea of reviewing a film that looks deliberately bad. You know the types, … the ones that have an intentionally absurd title, laugh at their own bad special-effects, bad acting, and bad dialogue. The ones that subscribe to the “so bad, it’s good” mantra. I hate that. Although, some readers on The Bib may think otherwise, I don’t enjoy “so bad, it’s good” films, or, at the very least, I don’t enjoy them because I think they are so bad, they’re good. To me, that isn’t a thing. If I find a way to enjoy your film, it is because I found the good in the bad, not because I appreciated a perceived ineptness you had with making your film, or worse, a perceived lack of effort. I respect the hell out of any filmmaker, author, or video-game developer that creates something for people to enjoy, shoots for the stars, and misses the mark. It is a part of being a storyteller and I would never bash someone for pursuing something they are passionate about, even if the end result wasn’t for me. Thus, I don’t review films that are made in bad faith and I don’t normally write about a low-budget horror film like this unless I can focus on the positives of it. 

Die’ced came on my radar for one reason in-particular – a do-it-yourself, rather deceptive and mortally ambiguous marketing campaign on the director’s end. Basically, the filmmaker Jeremy Rudd would frolic Facebook groups and Twitter, posting memes and other self-promotion, feigning it as though he is a casual horror fan who discovered Die’ced and now recognizes him as an official horror icon. It’s a scam, plainly put. As aware as I am of it, and as much as I think you should be aware of it before you offer this film the time of day, I am not that mad or offended by it. Part of that is because I get it, being an author who has had a lot less New York Times Best Sellers than not (I am up to, *checks notes*, … none so far), I can understand how difficult it is to make it in an industry that is inherently difficult, congested, and stacked against you. You have to play the game and hope the ends justify the means. I have paid thousands into ad campaigns at this point, so I can understand the temptation. Also, too, while it is a scam, it is a fairly low stakes scam. This isn’t Jeremy Rudd asking you to buy a magical, everything ointment that will cure every disease known to man for the low, low cost of a second-mortgage on your home. This is Jeremy Rudd potentially tricking you into watching a film available for free on Tubi under false pretenses. 

Is it a good film? Eh. On the director’s unsuccessful IndieGogo campaign, Jeremy Rudd in this moment, more honestly and transparently sets the stage for what to expect. He is an actor, writer and director with over sixty credits to his name, and, over the past year, he has concentrated his time on teaching himself the art of filmmaking. Thus, you should go into the film expecting someone who is still teaching themselves the art of filmmaking – some filmmakers hit different milestones at different times than others, but I always encourage the effort.

The review itself is about what you would expect: 

The film’s title screen immediately calls to mind the film Terrifier, which can also be seen from the choice of music, which has that old school sound to it. The best way I can describe this sound and piss someone off at the same time is to tell you it has that Stranger Things music to it. It’s an oversimplification and it is crediting Stranger Things for something that was popularized nearly four decades before it, but … you knew exactly what I was talking about when I said it, so who’s off base here? It also has the red font slapped across the black background a la Terrifier.

Die’ced is a lower-budget (lower than Terrifier) riff on Terrifier. 

Obviously, Terrifier owed a certain amount of debt to other films in the slasher genre and played more than a little to the nostalgia we had for them. However, I don’t think anyone would argue that Die’ced is directly inspired by Terrifier in-particular.

As far as pluses are concerned, the aesthetic for Benny the Scarecrow is decent, if a little generic. As with most aspects of this film, it borrows a little too much from Art the Clown, however. I know this couldn’t possibly have been on purpose, but even the brother in this film has a resemblance from the brother in Terrifier 2, albeit about eight years older. The very slow-paced, voyeuristic quality to the original Terrifier is present with Die’ced, delivering what is, frankly, a modest impression of that character. As the Scarecrows looks over a work desk, he searches for his next weapon of choice, with lighting and circumstances pretty directly lifted from that film.

The special effects are decidedly amateurish. The blood is thick with someone having yet to master their corn syrup recipe. The violence is familiar and doesn’t bring a whole lot to the tables in terms of inspiration. It is brief, and not something I would recommend going out of your way to see, I couldn’t help but at least think there was an earnest effort made to it, and that goes a long way with me. It is corny, but unabashedly so. 

The delivery of the characters is off and runs together, and worse yet, on a technical front, the audio will find itself changing mid-dialogue in some instances. 

This is, plainly put, a short film with too much ambition in its runtime. Slasher films aren’t generally very long, but even by their standards, Die’ced keeps things brief, clocking in at less than one hour before the dust settles. Unfortunately, instead of feeling like a fast-paced, in your face film, the time is so misappropriated. It did not have enough material for a one hour runtime, plain and simple. As a narrative, the film has absolutely nothing going on, with time in its already brief runtime spent on frivolous, monotonous tasks like the protagonist combing her hair at length. That may sound like nitpicking, but, the plot is paper thin even by slasher standards, and for a film with this runtime, there is no reason it should feel padded.

Since the director is clearly inspired by Terrifier (and is, frankly, plagiarizing it a little bit), I feel the best approach I could take to talking about Die’ced is to compare Jeremy Rudd to that film’s director Damien Leone. 

I was a modest fan of Damien Leone even before the Terrifier film was released. This is because I was first introduced to Art the Clown through his compilation of short films All Hallows’ Eve, an anthology that marked the first official appearance of the Art the Clown character. Although the anthology wasn’t perfect (I personally prefer it to the first Terrifier film, however), it was a balls to the wall proof-of-concept for the Art the Clown character. It made me take notice of what the director was capable of and appreciate what the character could stand to become (I didn’t actually like the first Terrifier film, personally, but I did enjoy Terrifier 2 a good deal, deeming it a “great” slasher film). Although Die’ced shows that Jeremy Rudd isn’t yet anywhere near the level of where Damien Leone was when he released the first Terrifier, Die’ced does commit the same sin as the first Terrifier, feeling like a short film trying to stretch itself to a (kind-of) feature length runtime. Although, I know things don’t always work out the way of best laid plans, I wish I would have been first introduced to Benny the Scarecrow through a compilation of short films, that the director would have experimented with the character and built momentum. 

In summation, even though I don’t think Die’ced is a good film and I do think Jeremy Rudd borrowed more than a few too many elements from Terrifier and committed morally ambiguous marketing with his promotion of the film, I wish him the best and I hope he learns from the experience overall. The horror genre and, also, the slasher sub-genre, is a wonderful platform for directors to learn the craft. I think he went down the wrong road with marketing, but I can understand and fairly easily forgive him for it. Likewise, even though I do think he plagiarized Terrifier, that is not at all a crime all horror directors are innocent of. Friday the 13th was initially envisioned as a cash-in for Halloween, and although it can certainly be said that it added enough new that no one can blatantly call it a ripoff of Halloween, the same can’t be said about a lot of the eighties camp slasher movies that tried to rip it off. 

Good luck, Jeremy! I will see you next time.