“Resurrecting the Street Walker” marks the feature debut of writer director Ozgur Uyanik and is another production in the mockumentary format which is becoming increasingly popular amongst low budget film makers. Focusing on a young man who is driven over the edge while trying to break into the film industry, it offers an informed, engaging portrait of madness that is both believable and chilling, and which just about manages to step beyond the confines of the subgenre. Having played the FAB festival in Edinburgh, the film arrives on region 2 DVD via Kaleidoscope, coming with extra features including deleted scenes, test footage, cast and crew interviews and audio commentary.
The film follows James Parker (played by James Powell, also in “Swimming with Sharks”), an obsessive young man who is determined to break into the film industry, despite the disapproval of his parents. After landing a job as an intern at a London production company, he comes across the reels of a long lost and unfinished horror film called ‘The Street Walker’, which follows a maniac who tortures and murders a series of unfortunate women. James decides that the film is his ticket to getting a foot in the industry door, and he sets about trying to edit it together for release. At the same time, his friend Marcus (Tom Shaw, from the television series “Skins”) follows him with a video camera, charting his attempts to restore the film, at the same time capturing his growing desperation and detachment from reality as it slowly takes over his life.
Director Uyanik lays his cards on table from the start, as “Resurrecting the Street Walker” opens with collage of classic video nasty video covers from the heyday of the early 1980s. It remains obvious throughout the film that he has a good knowledge of his subject matter, as can be seen in his even handed treatment of the old snuff film theme, certainly when compared to other more sensationalistic efforts. The film is similarly convincing in its depiction of the lower rungs of the film industry and the lowly life of the production runner, and it works as a fascinating expose, perhaps even more than as a straight horror film. Whilst the ending is very clearly signposted from early on, to his credit Uyanik seems to be is aware of this, and the film’s attention to detail ensures that it remains engaging, if not particularly tense. Matters are helped by a short running time, and at just an hour and twenty minutes it never outstays its welcome or overstretches its slender premise.
For once, the film makes good and convincing use of the whole fake documentary concept rather than just as a cheap trick to disguise its low budget, and Uyanik mixes together interviews, monologues, photographs and a variety of different types of footage to coherent effect. The film is restrained, and largely free from any gore or the torture scenes which might have been expected, although it does have a suitably seedy air, and a few dashes of unpleasantness here and there. As such, some may be disappointed by the lack of graphic action or murder scenes, though this arguably works to the film’s benefit, keeping things focused and preventing it from lapsing into the kind of tacked on scenes of carnage which would have dented believability or have broken its carefully constructed illusion of realism. ‘The Street Walker’ film within a film itself does provide many of the highlights, being a spot on recreation of good old fashioned video nasty horror.
Crucially, the film generally manages to avoid the worst pitfalls of the low budget horror genre, with some decent production values that make for a gritty, yet atmospheric look. James Powell is fine in the lead role, successfully giving a sense of growing obsession and violence whilst at the same time remaining interesting, if not exactly likeable. Though the rest of the cast are somewhat variable, with Tom Shaw being notably wooden on several occasions, none turn in performances which are grating enough to detract from the drama.
As a result, “Resurrecting the Street Walker” is better than might have been expected, and is a film which deserves to find a wider audience on DVD. The film is certainly one of the more intelligent and well constructed mockumentaries of recent years, and though it never quite delivers on the visceral promises of the material, it makes good use of its budget and provides an interesting exploration of its subject matter.
Ozgur Uyanik (director) / Ozgur Uyanik (screenplay)
CAST: Tom Shaw … Marcus
Joanne Ferguson … Joanne
Pinar Ögün … Rosa
Emma Pollard … Emma
James Powell … James Parker