The person guilty of the death of actress Ashley Swan is revealed through a series of behind-the-scenes footage from her last and unfinished film "Brother's Keeper", directed by Thomas Grayson.
"Outtake Reel" is another addition to the ever-growing mockumentary subgenre that I happen to appreciate a lot, even though I have gone through some real horseshit to find the good titles. I have also gone through plenty of mockumentaries about making films which I enjoy even more. Again, beyond the shitty ones. "Outtake Reel" certainly doesn't rank among the worst of that kind and for that they should be proud.
It starts off with a man representing "The Ashley Swan Memorial Trust", and he's basicly telling us what we are about to witness. And what exactly is that? It's the footage used in the trial. Basicly, it gets our minds going a bit since now we will be focusing on who kills her and how will she be killed. The footage is exhibits used in the trial, and ultimately only shows the most important bits to the story. While some mockumentaries are just found footage where you can expect a lot of nonsense between the important bits, this footage was intentionally edited together to show the parts we need in the story. And that's good, this movie saves itself by not falling into a trap of nonsense.
As for the story itself, I think it has both good and bad parts. I enjoyed the behind-the-scenes stuff mostly because they managed to make it feel like they were actually making a film except for a few tiny details. I have witnessed some really weak attempts where it's all too clear that the characters in the movie aren't really making a movie, and that they just have tiny bits of a complete story. "Outtake Reel" is vague enough where it needs to be, but still seems to have more to show than what we get to see. That's exactly what's needed.
What I didn't like for with the story is.. well, a bit spoiler-y, so I can't get into it completely. But there are some twists and turns that weren't always for the best. I think scenes like those were needed, but maybe those specific scenes down-graded the rest of the film a little bit. Mostly because I think they made the movie fall into the same trap it seemed to protest against. This is of course a big part of the story but I don't think it made it a bad movie.
It's pretty short and to the point so there's not a lot of time to get bored which is great. The actors also manage to bring a sense of realism to it even when the rest of the movie doesn't give that feel. It's not one of those films who will actually fool you into believing this actually happened and it's hard to say exactly why (ignore the obvious reason that you know it's ficiton - we like to fool ourselves when watching a movie, right?) but at least the main actors are good for such an independent movie. And boy, does that help!
"Outtake Reel" has some rough spots, it's definitely not flawless, but it doesn't resort to silly comedy as I've seen a lot of other films do. This movie even has Lloyd Kaufman in a role where he actually seems to be acting at times! Yes, Lloyd Kaufman ultimately brings you out of the movie a little bit, but I think overall even he plays the serious tone well. This is essentially the driving force behind the movie, I think. That it's an independent movie that wants to remain relatively serious through-out. Definitely an alright movie. I'd like to see what these filmmakers have in store for us in the future!