Clara wakes up in the back of a serial killer's car. She will be the final chapter of the killer's scrapbook and will be the final nail in the coffin for him to get famous. He keeps her locked in a room for a long period of time and eventually she needs to come up with a plan to get out of there.
Unlike with Eric Stanze's "Ice From the Sun", where I expected something great, I had mostly heard crap about "Scrapbook" from my good co-owner Preston. Knowing that he is cynical, but oddly enough often correct, I still wasn't sure which end I would fall on with this one. I bought it a long time ago but never got around to watch it until I got this review copy, and it would probably have been sitting on my shelf for a long time still if I hadn't gotten it to review.
"Scrapbook" is exactly what an independent, gritty serial killer film is. It lacks a lot, but it also has enough. The story just is.. you never get bothered by it, but it's never intriguing enough either. A serial killer records his life through a scrapbook, and a girl, Clara, is captured to fill his final chapter in the book. His goal is to later get the book out there and get famous off of it. Writer Tommy Biondo (also playing the killer, Leonard) had apparently studied a real case carefully to prepare for the movie, and it wouldn't surprise me since the story in itself is very believable.
I will start with the problems the movie suffers from. The intro scene isn't a bad idea. It's there to show that acts of pedophilia is what made Leonard what he is today. The way it's done is pretty bad though. They tell it through the eyes of the kid but you never get the feeling that it actually is a kid. Of course, they throw in a teddy bear and make the angle lower to make sure we understand, but it just doesn't work. I couldn't shake the feeling of there being an adult behind the camera. I know, I know, we all already know that an adult would have had to film that scene, but that's the thing about movies. You should forget things like that, not have them be repeated in your head through-out the scene. So that's a good idea that just didn't work at all in the movie. Ignoring that, since it's just a small part of the film, there are still things that didn't work too well. Nothing that I can blame anyone specific for, but it just never gets as uncomfortable to watch as it should. I admire that some of the things were done - any film that dares to be a bit graphic in sexual department will have to face certain things and I think it's great that they decided to go with it. In a film like this it's needed, I think, to get the really gritty feel that it was going for. But for some reason I just couldn't get into it. It took me very long before I could think of them as characters instead of actors, and that bothers me. That's what made a film like "August Underground" so great, you believed it within the first scene.
Now to the good... When Clara decides she needs to get out of there and comes up with a plan, the film is basicly resting on her shoulders rather than Leonard's, and this part of the movie worked for me. I think it played out well and made it a much more tolerable film overall. I expected it to turn out this way but that's absolutely fine when it's pulled off well. That's the strongest part of this movie, no doubt.
"Scrapbook" is better than "Ice From the Sun" because it focuses on one thing. It might not pull it off well - some of the praise for this movie is weird to me - but it's okay. There are so many films out there that attempt these things and make them pathetic. If you compare this one to the best, then it's terrible, but when I went into it I expected the worst and think it turned out fine. The first 2/3 of the film I think were very bland stuff, very typical, but by the end of it I think it's an okay attempt and don't feel I need to drag it down all too much. Who knows, maybe the complete suckiness of "Ice From the Sun" made this one seem so much better! I think if I had gotten this on VHS, maybe 10 years ago, I would've liked it more. It's just hard to feel shock from it as a jaded viewer.