May 7, 2019 Strawberry Flavored Plastic (Movie Review)
Instead of becoming lost in the slew of recent releases covering the dark, yet fascinating subject matter of serial killers, the Neo-noir Horror Documentary Strawberry Flavored Plastic stands out. While the use of found footage in Horror, alongside the conventionally attractive psychopath, is often viewed as cliché or overused, Writer/Director Colin Bemis uses both of these tropes and managed to create a gripping Mockumentary-style Horror film that fans of true crime will want to sink their teeth into.
Arriving on DVD and VOD as of Tuesday, May 7, 2019 through Breaking Glass Pictures, the film follows two budding filmmakers, Errol Morgan (Nicholas Urda: Team Allies! series, Audition 2015) and his friend Ellis Archer (Andres Motejo), as they set out to create their first feature film. Enter Noel Rose (Aidan Bristow: L.A. Macabre series, American Horror Story series) – a recovering junkie that was recently incarcerated for 9 years for “crimes of passion.”
Errol and Ellis, giddy as ever, provide Noel with an arsenal of equipment; a digital camera and an abundance of memory cards and tapes, to record anytime he feels the need to vent or does something worthwhile. As time goes by and Noel begins to open up to them, they discover that not only has he never been to prison, but he is still a very-much active serial killer who is still at large.
Strawberry Flavored Plastic is a visceral and disturbing character study on a what could be considered to be the quintessential serial killer. There are some obvious similarities between Noel and other notable well-known killers that all fit that typical killer profile. He is very much a Ted Bundy-esque character in the sense that he is a charismatic, charming, and attractive young man that enjoys spending time with his family, local theater, and beating people to death in his spare time.
Unlike other films in this sub-genre, Bemis does not focus on the brutality of his crimes to add a level of shock or gore to his debut feature film, and instead shows the incredibly human side of serial killers which makes it all the more chilling to watch. One of the more unnerving qualities that these Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer types tend to possess is that they are seemingly normal until you realize something is off. On the surface, Noel is your average Joe until he shows his true colors. As a viewer, you find yourself being manipulated by Noel as he charms those around him. You find yourself becoming comfortable with him until he lets you see what lies beneath, and suddenly it stops being charming and it starts being disconcerting.
Furthermore, Bristow’s portrayal of Noel is definitely the shining element in this dark, twisted tale. His ability to turn on a dime and manipulate both the audience and the filmmakers is what makes this film work. He is sickly sweet, yet frighteningly unhinged as he gets under your skin and forces you to sympathize with him. As a viewer, you go from being absolutely enamored with his kind eyes and 100-watt smile, to being disturbed once his “unscratchable itch” rears its ugly head. As most serial killers, he manages to hide in plain sight, fooling everyone while feigning innocence and vulnerability while committing acts of depravity behind closed doors.
While Strawberry Flavored Plastic has its faults, it is still a must-see for fans of Horror and True Crime alike. Some of the acting is a bit shoddy, so its awkwardness can be almost amusing. However, it does add to the DIY Documentary style of the film, where you as a viewer would agree that “Yeah, these guys are amateurs.”
Above all, what Strawberry Flavored Plastic does well is force you to sympathize with the antagonist – a cold, calculated sociopath. For those in the mood for a refreshing take on the modern serial killer, Cryptic Rock gives this movie 4 out of 5 stars.