Resurrecting the Streetwalker (2009)

Resurrecting the Streetwalker is a brutally honest affair, depicting the film industry in an incredibly bleak and negative light, as a business that thrives on nepotism and extraneous egos. It reflects on the potential horrors of such work and the damage it can inflict to ones psyche, through ones dreams, the drive for those dreams and, ultimately, the failure to realise them.

Echoing the dark aesthetic of 2003s The Last Horror Movie and the 1886 classic, Henry Portrait of a Serial Killer, this film is drenched in the legacy of horror. It is a tidy mixture of grim, docu-style realism and melodramatic story elements. The trick of it is, however, that it not only panders to the horror aficionados out there but also creates a genuinely engaging story that could, potentially, entertain a much wider audience.

The plot is simple yet admirably succinct. James Parker (James Powell) and his friend Marcus (Tom Shaw) are shooting an insider documentary on the film industry. To help inform the doc, James works at an independent production company as a runner and while organising a cluttered store cupboard, finds the discarded reels to an unfinished video nasty called The Streetwalker.

After convincing his boss to let him finish the film, things begin to take a turn for the down right sinister. What follows is a tale of obsession, paranoia and revenge, all told in a shockingly convincing mockumentary format.

Presenting the story in a ‘real’ documentary style, however, does create some obvious problems. While more mundane elements, such as the spilling of a carton of milk when making a scrambled dash for the work place, are clearly drawn from genuine experience, the ‘cursed’ Streetwalker movie seems a fantasy aspect drawn from cinema itself. Such opposing radical styles should clash more violently but the script is devilishly ingenious and, at times, impressively subtle in its blending of these ingredients.

For instance, when James conceives a new ending for The Streetwalker he adds a particularly grim plot point which is in no small part a subconscious attack on one of his more confrontational work colleagues. The first time it is mentioned one will barely bat an eye lid, but this feature gains momentum and meaning in time which should feel camp and predictable but, incredibly, still manages to surprise when it reaches its inevitable conclusion.

The real trump card here though is James’s Powell’s performance as James Parker which is, simply, perfect. He creates an unbearably truthful and wholly convincing character that one can both identify with and be utterly repulsed by. He is the lynchpin that holds the movie together and the flaws of the character he encompasses are enhanced through his eyes, and through them your own flaws and fears will be reflected back at you.

And yet despite the film being of a generally high standard, certain components diminish the product as a whole. The original ‘Streetwalker’ reels are clearly digitally shot, a form of photography unavailable at the time it was supposedly filmed. An unconvincing black and white filter has been placed over these scenes to imply that they have been captured using 16mm film.

It is not entirely jarring but does present an obvious artifice in contrast with the otherwise convincing performances and excellent writing in the present day documentary segments. Saying this, the ‘Streetwalker’ sequences contain some satisfying and shocking turns in the form of spine tingling violence. Whether it is actually shown on screen or just implied it is regularly affecting.

Resurrecting the Streetwalker is an absolute gem of movie, mixing the ‘real’ and the supernatural to marvellous results. It also introduces us to two great talents in the form of writer/director Ozgur Uyanik and actor James Powell. Whatever they do next, they are, undoubtedly, great talents to be watched.

Movie Rating: ★

★ ★ ★ ☆ 

Resurrecting the Streetwalker is available on DVD from 28th June.

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