Shown at this year’s Florida based Popcorn Frights Festival (and premiering this weekend at the 2023 Frightfest London), Marcel Walz’s “That’s a Wrap” is a new low budget horror film that is stylish and quite entertaining.


Writers Joe Knetter and Robert L. Lucas and director Walz clearly have an affinity for the slasher whodunnits that filled movie theaters in the late 1970s and most of the 80s. They understand the intricacies of crafting a proper horror aesthetic through artful lighting, good framing, wild characters, and brutal gore moments. The filmmakers use their love of the genre to good effect in this wild and well-shot picture.


Respected and disliked in equal measure, film director Mason Maestro (Robert Donavan) is throwing a wrap party for the cast of his latest work. His intention is to reveal the trailer for what he claims to be his masterpiece. Mason’s wife, veteran actress Lily (the treasure that is Monique Parent) is at his side, although their relationship is less than stable. The main cast is in attendance, but the crew is off shooting another film and the party is exclusive to those who were in front of the camera.


Mason’s “final girl” Harper (Sarah French) seems to be the only person who has any sense of self. The cast of Mason’s horror picture is filled with self-obsessed starlets and people trying to climb the ladder of success at almost any cost. As Mason Maestro has confiscated everyone’s cell phones (he worries about footage being leaked), the motley bunch wander around the dark hallways while a killer stalks and kills them off one by one. As with any good slasher flick, the night becomes a perfect storm of drink, sex, and bloody murder.


“That’s a Wrap” takes its setup and runs with it, emanating a sense of pure genre fun. Visually, the film is darkly gorgeous, wearing an artful coat made of Giallo colors. Cinematographer Marcus Friedlander bathes the film in deep reds and blues, with the opening sequence (of a woman being stalked by the killer) paying tribute to the color schemes from Dario Argento’s “Suspiria” and “Inferno”.


The film’s Giallo comparisons are earned by not only the visual palettes, but in the sinister design of the killer. With the ratty blonde hair, leather trench coat, and ultra-sharp murder weapon, the villain’s presence is a call back to the killers from films such as “The Bird with the Crystal Plumage”, “Profondo Rosso”, and James Wan’s 2021 horror hybrid, “Malignant“, itself a Giallo tribute.


While peppered with homages to Italian horror and the heyday of the American slasher film, Marcel Walz doesn’t forget to tell a fun story in exciting ways. Each kill scene is executed with cleverness while a couple murder moments are tinged with the type of dark humor where a viewer might question if they should laugh or shield their eyes. The director is having a good time playing with his audience and acheives a good mystery vibe regarding the identity of the film’s killer.


Walz has fun making sure his audience is gasping and smiling in equal measure. Experiencing the director’s macabre glee at cinematic manipulation brings to mind the work of Brian De Palma or William Castle, two of the finest cinematic puppet masters.


Amongst the chills and thrills, the film sneaks in a message about how the film industry treats women in the profession. The relevancy of the commentary and the purposeful irony of the film’s depiction regarding some of its female characters work very well in the scheme of it all.


Produced by Neon Noir, this is Marcel Walz’s first film from his own production company. Both the company and film are inclusive and feature representations by the LGBTQ community. The filmmaker has been quoted as saying “As a gay director, I am thrilled to have the gay community represented” in his film.


With a game cast, a good visual style, creative gore, and a proper respect for the genre, Marcel Walz’s slasher mystery is a welcome reprieve from the dull Hollywood horror films of today. For fans of the over-the-top slasher pictures from the 70s and 80s, “That’s a Wrap” is a gory good time.


That’s a Wrap

Written by Joe Knetter and Robert L. Lucas

Directed by Marcel Walz

Starring Monique Parent, Robert Donovan, Sarah French, Cerina Vincent, Sarah Polednak, Brandon Patricio, Steve J. Owens, Gigi Gustin

NR, 94 Minutes, Neon Noir/Mezek Films