Review: '7th Day'

By: Heather Seebach

Perhaps John Waters is to blame/thank, but the Baltimore film scene is best known for schlock and trash cinema. As a Baltimoron and fan of all things tongue-in-cheek, I could not be happier about that fact. Still, I love it when a hard-hitting horror film comes out of my hometown. Local indie horror productions like Witch's Brew and Isle of the Damned have poured on the Charm City cheese, but with 7th Day, B-more FX guru Jason M. Koch gives us a bleak character study and a more realistic gore-fest. It is an impressive albeit not completely fulfilling feature.

The film follows seven days in the life of a serial killer named Allen (Mark S. Sanders). By day, he is a dishwasher in a dive bar - just a quiet, lonely guy everybody ignores. He tolerates his asshole co-worker and an obnoxious neighbor in order to protect his nighttime hobbies - drinking, stalking, torturing etc. He keeps the pistol out of his mouth only when he remembers what a service he is doing to mankind, and the knowledge that some day he will be famous. And then there is Denise, the pretty waitress with whom he believes he may have a future that doesn't involve rope and bone saws. 

Right from the start, 7th Day hooks you with the realization that this is not your average horror film. The fourth wall is broken almost immediately, and the viewer is welcomed into the everyday life of a disturbed human being. As Allen, Sanders is interesting and likable without being too sympathetic. Convinced he will be infamous some day, he spends the movie giving an "interview" to the audience. There is a special "twist" on that idea which I won't reveal here, but I will say that its introduction in the film seriously freaked me out - and that's not an easy task with me.

 The film will inevitably be compared to Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer because, well, this is a portrait of a serial killer. 7th Day, however, has a surreal, black sense of humor. There are also subtle shades of Videodrome, though that may not be intentional. Now, don't get me wrong, the movie is plenty fucked up - there is necrophilia, incest, and cannibalism (oh my!). It is very grimy but also just eccentric enough to avoid Henry-levels of cinemasochism.

Though directing is not Koch's day job, the film is well-shot, especially considering its modest budget. Koch's company Aftermath FX brings the gore, which is occasionally over-the-top but mostly brutally effective. My biggest complaint with 7th Day is its anticlimactic conclusion. The title had me hoping it was building to something wild on the final day but ultimately it amounted to little more than what I assume is a Biblical allusion. I also wish more was done with the aforementioned "twist" - it's just so rare that anything gives me the heebie-jeebies, so I hoped for more of that!

Still, to be left wanting more certainly is not the worst thing a movie could be accused of. 7th Day boasts an interesting lead, an abundance of quality gore, and a few genuinely unnerving moments. I'm not a huge fan of serial killer flicks, so my favorite parts are the more Cronenberg-esque ones. Still, fans of stuff like Henry should find a lot to like here, too. 7th Day is one surreal, brutal chunk of hometown horror worth checking out.

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