Robert Bronzi stars in fun but hollow “Death Wish vs Leatherface” Pastiche
In the 1980s, Cannon Films became the home of aging star Charles Bronson, where he starred in a number of rough-edged action films, most of them under the direction of J. Lee Thompson. For a brief period Cannon also held the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise, and in a certain sense a “Bronson versus Leatherface” type of matchup was, while highly implausible, technically feasible.
It never happened of course, but low budget writer-director Rene Perez has taken that concept head-on, taking his most interesting collaborator (and Charles Bronson lookalike) “Robert Bronzi” and pitting him against a creepy masked slasher villain in the tradition of Jason Voorhees or the aforementioned Leatherface (Yes, they have a big fistfight at the end).
Bronzi plays a police officer on the trail of his missing daughter, tracking her to a remote private compound. His appearance coincides with that of a reporter who has scored an interview with the supervillain hiding there, one of America’s most wanted criminals. What both will learn is that the compound is home to “Havoc”, an insane and physically imposing prisoner who dons a terrifying mask and prowls the area murdering anyone he encounters (mostly young women lured there under the guide of starring in a reality TV survival series).
The film is both a lot of fun and kind of a drag, with a neat concept, lots of practical gore effects, and the novelty factor of its star, playing against draggy editing and unremarkable characters. Havoc is both a unique looking character and completely devoid of any personality or background. Actually, the same could be said for most of the characters.
The film’s at its worst during the interview segment, which stops everything cold for 15 minutes of straight bad guy exposition (good exposition, even, there’s just way too much of it). And despite the info drop, the film’s abrupt and unsatisfying ending actually leaves a lot of questions unanswered, perhaps for the story’s next chapter.
In technical terms, the movie features nice crisp digital cinematography and utilizes an impressive amount of practical gore effects. The outdoor color timing is highly desaturated, which might arguably be considered stylized, but doesn’t serve any meaningful purpose that I can think of (except perhaps to help mask some of the effects).
As it turns out, I had no idea but Havoc is a recurring villain of the Playing With Dolls slasher series, already a few films deep, that Perez has been making for the last few years. Cry Havoc is a crossover of sorts, taking the filmmaker’s two main recurring franchises (Playing With Dolls and “fake Bronson movies”) and putting them together.
All 16:9 screen images in this review are screen captures taken from an online screener provided by the film’s distributor.