Written by: Matt Patti | August 24th, 2023
That’s a Wrap (Marcel Walz, 2023) 2 out of 4 stars.
Horror movies centered around filmmaking and/or that involve a “film within a film” have been around for some time. The Scream franchise comes to mind in terms of this kind of genre, also offering many mentions of popular classic-horror cinema throughout the saga. In the new slasher That’s a Wrap, director Marcel Walz (Blood Feast) attempts to create a clever ode to horror and the film industry, but poor dialogue and overdramatic moments drag down an otherwise capable thriller.
In That’s a Wrap, film director Mason Maestro (Robert Donavan, Attack of the Unknown) has created what he calls a “masterpiece,” a new horror slasher called “That’s a Wrap.” Quite proud of his work, he and his wife Lily (Monique Parent, Cuck), throw a wrap party, excited to show the cast their new trailer. However, when the costumed killer of the fictional movie shows up to the event, bodies start dropping. Who could be killing off the stars of the picture, and why?
All starts well enough, as the opening scene features a tense chase with exceptional, vibrant lighting and a quality score. In fact, most of the technical elements are impressive, throughout, including the cinematography. Then, once we get to the wrap party, we listen to the conversations between the cast, and realize something is off. The characters are all fleshed out a good bit, and most get almost equal screentime, but the words they utter to each other … oh the horror!
The dialogue the audience hears can be described in many unflattering ways, but the word that comes to the top of mind is forced. None of the exchanges between anyone in the film seem natural, as the sentences spoken are very on-the-nose and the delivery robotic. Is it poor acting? I wouldn’t say so, as the performances are actually quite sound outside of a few bad apples. I think the real problem is a combination of subpar direction and bottom-of-the-barrel writing.
I’ll give credit where credit is due: the references to cinema and other films are creative and at times humorous and/or intriguing. However, any dialogue that does not revolve around the topic of filmmaking comes off as if a middle-schooler had written it. I will admit that the script for the plot and action lines is passable, if only the writer could craft an organically flowing conversation.
Other aspects of That’s a Wrap are largely hit-or-miss. Some of the kills are very brutal and inventive, while others are common and shoddily executed. Some supporting characters are truly compelling but are killed off before they can be further explored. The third act impresses, but the very ending of the film is predictable and a bit too goofy.
Overall, That’s a Wrap is a film that has potential, but is hindered by one specific, glaring weakness. Other elements of the film shine, but not bright enough to overcome its shortcomings. The movie is trying to replicate some of the success of Scream, and does borrow from it. However, while the dialogue in Scream is some of the best the horror genre has ever seen, the dialogue in That’s a Wrap may be some of the worst, completely whiffing on an essential ingredient of cinema.