Uncut, the UK’s first uncut feature-length film, premiered at BAFTA in Piccadilly last night. It was made by Philip West, a director from Hackney. Impossible to pin down to one particular genre, it switches recklessly between thriller, horror and comedy without really caring whether its audience can keep up. This helps to keep it faster paced than one might expect from a 90-minute film that is all shot on a hand held camera.
The film is about a group of actors trapped in a building where a serial killer is on the loose. Tension rises as the actors start to suspect each other.
The film was shot on a tiny budget of just £9000, but this adds to its charm. The no frills approach means there are no cutaways or irritating jerky-cam moments as characters get stabbed to death. This makes the viewer feel part of the action, rather than on the safe side of a TV screen.
There’s a vibrancy that sizzles off the cast too. It’s the kind of frisson you get watching a live play rather than a film, but it’s coupled with a nervousness from the cast in the initial scenes which is accepted on stage but fails to transfer effectively to screen.
Lois Winstone, the biggest name in the film, plays the fragile prima donna. She handles transitions from stoical calm to mad histrionics confidently, but sometimes she looks physically awkward when the camera tails her from room to room.
The importance of the film is in its uniqueness. Mr West said he had wanted to do a one-take horror film since watching horror films as a child and has invested his own cash to get the film made.
The advantage of a vanity project means you don’t have to answer to anyone else, and it has allowed West to make bold choices about throwing away conventions of genre and wholeheartedly embracing the challenges that come with a one-take. His passion for his art is evident in every lovingly crafted scene.