MR. CLEAVER ** USA 2018 Dir: Nik Wendelsdorf 75 mins
In MR. CLEAVER, a group of punk teens break into a warehouse to party, unknowingly bringing the owner’s bloodthirsty wrath upon them. That sounds like a pretty decent premise for a slasher film right? That is what Mr. Cleaver tries to be, and there is a fair share of gore in an actual warehouse that is very much perfect for a slasher film, but that’s where the good ends and the flaws spew out like all the guts of the protagonists.
I really tried to view this fairly, knowing that the budget was low and MR. CLEAVER is aimed at fans of trashy low budget 90’s slasher horror, but it’s very difficult to be fair when the actors don’t know what an overreaction is, and there are too many overdone performances with melodramatic reactions to take any of the serious moments, well, seriously. To be fair, the soundtrack is on par with trashy slashers from the 90’s. It’s sometimes grungy, but mostly punk pieces with a tiny bit of creepy music thrown in every now and then. It’s not great, but it at least achieves the vibe MR. CLEAVER is going for. The writing was another point of issue, both in terms of the dialogue and the general story. There are glaring plot holes and the character logic is very out-of-character for all of the characters, often feeling like tension and violence is just conveniently manufactured to add more time to something that doesn’t even have the natural terror that a slasher film should have. Even the trashy 90’s slashers at least got this somewhat right. The warehouse is a nice location to film a horror film in. If MR. CLEAVER was redone with a lot more time and attention spent to crafting it, then it could be a decent slasher horror. If any other filmmakers ever decide to film at that location, they could make a really good horror film out of it. Overall, MR. CLEAVER is definitely a skippable slasher horror. Nothing really comes across as being done right in this tribute to trashy 90’s slashers. The filmmakers, cast, and crew should really spend more time focusing on polishing and fine tuning. Definitely a two star horror film.
Review by Joseph Cruz