Skip to content

The price we pay – Ultra Gory, guerrilla cinema at its best

January 12, 2023

When you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life. Although even the most diehard career fans would say that’s not always true, The Price We Pay is the rare example of a love of craftsmanship that comes through on screen. The action/horror/comedy that refuses to be defined is destined to become a cult classic revisited in years to come by returning viewers looking for a laugh and new ones eager to be surprised.

When everyone is having fun, it shows in the movies. Something magical happens that elevates the film from superficial camerawork and acting to campy genius and elegant direction. The Price We Pay, directed by Ryûhei Kitamura (The Midnight Meat Train, Downrange) and written by Christopher Jolley, is one such film. From start to finish, it’s non-stop fun. Between the surprisingly effective direction and camerawork and the grossly icky practical effects, there’s a lot to like about this film that clearly understands its audience and what it wants.

When a pawnshop heist goes awry, a trio of criminals take a hostage and flee. Alex, Emile Hirsch (The Immaculate Room, The Autopsy of Jane Doe), who plays offbeat, and his brother Shane (Tanner Zagarino), as well as Stephen Dorff (Blade) Cody, are in trouble. Worse still, Grace (Gigi Zumbado, Run Sweetheart Run) was in the wrong place at the worst time. The group ends up in an isolated farmhouse, hoping to hole up for the night and regroup. Unfortunately, this farm grows more than crops, and things quickly spiral out of control. In a race for survival, Grace must decide how far she will go to save her own life.

Read also How Josh Trank and Tom Hardy brought Capone to life

Hirsch stands out, playing to the extremes of the script. Alex is a villain with odd physical ticks and a desire to shoot first and talk later. His manic energy fills his scenes with a rabid electricity reflected in the people he inadvertently encounters. Hypnotic chemistry draws you in despite being annoyed by all of them. There’s a satisfaction in what’s happening to Alex that shouldn’t be as pleasant as it is. Yet there it is. In full Technicolor glory, as blood splattered, my fist swelled and a harsh laugh choked out. Hirsch’s commitment to his over-the-top performance makes up for some of the skimpier parts of the script.

This Grindhouse-style flick blends all the best elements of blood-splattered effects, larger-than-life characters, and B-movie diversions to keep you on your heels. That sense of imbalance permeates most of the movie and is laughable when you should probably be horrified, but that’s the nature of these types of movies. It’s the kind of movie in which National Treasure Danny Trejo is expected to jump out of a trunk or from behind a locked door with a smile and a chainsaw. It’s silly and doesn’t take itself too seriously, but still manages to be a pretty wild ride.

Sometimes these movies can get so ridiculous that the horror gets lost in a pool of fuscia-hued viscera and barbed bats. Although the barbed wire makes a significant appearance, it’s worth the price of admission in the final act; nothing ever goes so far as to take us out of the story. The price we pay walks a fine line, never going too far into the absurd to erase fear. It’s a delicate balancing act that you don’t expect in a movie that’s so obviously self-aware.

Read also Tom Holland has 5 great movies on the way

The film is aided by a fantastic real-life farmhouse in New Mexico that’s lit and rotated to make the most of the eerie space and tricky corners. Frequent collaborating cinematographer Matthias Schubert (Downrange, The Shed) knows his way around tight spaces and uses clever camera tricks to increase the tension to coincide with the action. The end result is a bonkers product reminiscent of some of the greats like Quentin Tarantino’s From Dusk Till Dawn and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The twist isn’t quite as startling as the first, and the scares aren’t quite as chilling as the second, but Kitamura’s film forges a new space of horror that allows levity and fear to coexist.

The aforementioned twist is anticipated early by a seemingly unrelated prologue, but the set does all the heavy lifting, so you’re surprised even when you know what’s to come. As sunny shots of sweaty brows give way to dark underground hallways and later neon-lit spaces, we anxiously watch as our team receives what’s befalling them. It’s a curious kind of morbidity that plays well with the central theme. Karma is a bitch.

It’s the kind of movie for lovers of that kind of rollercoaster cinema that finds art in the absurd and fun in the chaos. The chaos that ensues in the final act makes every moment of the setup worth it. So go cold and watch with friends because The Price We Pay is definitely a party movie. It’s on VOD everywhere right now and in select theaters on January 13, 2023.

Read also Johnny Depp would have played an important role in Beetlejuice 2

Tracy Palm Tree

As the editor of Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre entertainment. I grew up with old school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. My work can be found here and Travel Weird, where I am the editor.

The post The Price We Pay Review – Ultra Gory, Guerilla Filmmaking At Its Best appeared first on Signal Horizon.