“I’m an actor. I’m not a meat puppet.”
Legendary TV producer Suzy Prescott (Michelle Bauer) is having a rough day as the star of one of her breakthrough series, Brad (Skyler Hart), is considering quitting the show after three seasons. With an obvious ‘hands-on’ approach to talent management, Suzy turns her cougarous attention to the several other identikit twinks that casually stroll around her Malibu mansion, presumably en route to the casting couch.
Always keen to cut a deal with the latest hot talent, Suzy senses that she’s been stabbed in the back by one of her own protégées, casting supremo Paul (Jared Edwards). Summoned to the mansion for the weekend, Paul steps out of his car wearing a bathrobe (seriously…?). He’s brought the hottest (and possibly dullest) new twink with him Logan Branch (Carey James, a wooden actor whose character worries about being over exposed…). But Paul isn’t the only one Suzy should be afraid of… Pissed after being dumped from a career-changing lead role he’d only just landed, Jerry (Chase Bennett) is out to get his revenge on an unfair industry where execs care more about how boys look when they take their shirts off than they do their acting talent. One by one Jerry stalks the twinks around the mansion, killing them with the aid of a small kitchen knife and a few cheesy zingers. Keen to surpass the role of the comedy co-star in this cut-throat business, drink-addled and embittered twink Trent (Luke Allen) spots the corpse of the guy who got the lead and puts a call in to his agent.
Come the finale, Jerry confronts Suzy, taking her and Logan hostage. Keen to show how genuine acting trumps twinks, he forces Suzy to film him acing the audition for a second time: “This is some of the best acting I’ve ever seen.” The film wraps as it began, bookended by scenes in a different location with two wannabes offering vital commentary about how an acting career can be bad for your mental health: “this business will wear you down until there’s nothing left”.
Filmed back to back over one weekend with 1313: BOY CRAZIES this one features another too short script by Barbara Kymlicka… For a few (roughly 40…) minutes we’re entertained by DeCoteau’s attempt at a Wes Craven slash Kevin Williamson mashup. And it’s not bad (or at least has the potential to rear its head above some of the other entries in the franchise). The key issue here is that, like BOY CRAZIES, DeCoteau runs out of the better slash good stuff and has to crudely insert some extra twinks shot on another, duller day, in a series of pickups also featuring Chase Bennett. Whilst frustrating, DeCoteau at least gets playful with some cat and mouse sequences around the mansion which is far better than the hallucinatory tedium of the “twink slash vampire” Trent wondering endlessly around the mansion in his briefs” from its weekend companion piece. Even the matching wraparound bookends – another device used on BOY CRAZIES – make more sense here with, as often in the 1313 films, DeCoteau wearing his Rapid Heart social concerns on his sleeve.
What makes 1313: ACTOR SLASH MODEL enjoyable (and yes, I’ve watched it more than once…) is the acid camp that runs though the script. It gives you a sense of what might have been if some of the other entries in the franchise weren’t so po-faced. And the Kevin Williamson homage isn’t limited to lethal one liners. This is the film where DeCoteau’s own “meat puppets” go the full meta with a plot about the emptiness of fame and the predatory nature of the industry. As Trent puts it when asking Logan if he’s ready for his time in the sun:
“Are you ready for the role of the big star, celebrity, kiss arse? All that’s way more important than the role. I mean, for that all you need to do is memorise your lines and show up. But for the rest of it, it’s a dance, a dance you’d better learn quick. Or else you’ll be eaten alive. And Suzy Prescott? She’s one of the hungrier ones.”1313: ACTOR SLASH MODEL (2011)
Fuelling this sense of fun are scream queen legend Michelle Bauer – never the greatest actress but clearly relishing the chance to go the full predator – and even some of the twinks give good value for money (just remember this was almost entirely shot in one day…). Honourable mention goes to Bennett for both keeping his shirt on and holding his crazy shit together, and to Luke Allen for both providing some acerbic snark through the bottom of a wine glass (“Ah, the smell of new meat”) and for introducing speedos (c/o wardrobe sponsor Markus Schenkenberg) to the franchise. Kudos too to Israel Korn for actually, you know, attempting to act whilst taking his shirt off, flex his pecs and deliver up a shower scene: “Hell, I’m a good actor and I look pretty good without my shirt on”.
The down sides come from those inserted pickups and a frustrating determination to overdo the stock music, which often reaches a crescendo when there’s no crescendo to be seen. This makes watching the whole thing a much more wearisome affair than it needs to be. Honestly David, less can be more… The same goes for the stock sound FX. There’s actually a foley artist credited on the film so you can hear the sound of twinks’ footsteps on the mansion’s marble floors. But such veracity gets abandoned for the almighty “schwing” sound sting DeCoteau crudely edits in whenever Jerry whips out his weapon. This might have been hilarious in the editing suite, but in reality it just snaps your precariously suspended disbelief back into sharp focus. It also makes you realise how tiny Jerry’s blade is…
The director and his star debate the size of the blade on the DVD chat track (1), with Bennett feeling it could have been bigger whilst DeCoteau prefering something more pocketable… The knife actually looks like one of those ‘too small to be useful’ blades you find in the back of a kitchen drawer in an overpriced Airbnb. Bennett recalls warning his co-stars about how sharp the blade was only to have DeCoteau reassure him that they’d dulled the blade on the pavement before filming… yes, acting can be hazardous to your health.
Now, this all might be a cunning Freudian reading of the slasher sub-genre, where the knife is the patriarchal phallus, stabbings simulate onscreen penetration, the tiny knife symbolic of Jerry’s impotent rage, and gay male audience “enjoyment” has something to do with deep lingering shame about being passive (it’s like the Freudian cultists have never met a power bottom…). And it’s interesting that Jerry both strips one twink down before slashing him, nails another in the gym, and ties casting agent Paul to the bed before “penetrating” him through his Under Armour. But that’s all probably beyond the pay grade of these movies…
Reminding us of the Lazy Susan of fame and fortune (what spins around soon spins away again), Bennett (who takes his work seriously, having been trained by horror luminary Scott H. Reiniger aka Roger in Romero’s DAWN OF THE DEAD) recalls in his commentary what it was like being rejected from an earlier DeCoteau audition. DeCoteau explains that it’s all about getting seen and reminds his star of his place in the pecking order: “To me you’re a pretty boy but you don’t come off like a pretty boy, you don’t act like a pretty boy”. Which is sound advice from the guy who employs “many more young actors aged 18 to 24 than any other director working in Hollywood right now”.
In a stark reminder of industry reality, DeCoteau later mocks Bennett’s attitude – “Don’t hate them because they’re beautiful!” – and dumps him – in his own feature debut chat track no less! – by taking a phone call from handsome Jason-Shane Scott (star of many a DeCoteau movie and the first real DeCoteau Boy to have his career “take off”). Elsewhere on the chat track, Bennett reveals the Malibu mansion where everything happens belongs to the inventor of “spinning rims”, which is a pretty neat metaphor for the revolving door casting of the DeCoteau multi-verse. Or maybe it should be the name of the in-house boy band…?
“Maybe you should think about quitting the business” // “The rejection could make anyone crazy.”
In brief: 1313’s “meat puppets” go meta as an overlooked actor avenges the roles he lost to twinkier thesps.
In briefs: More of a “shirtless actor” google search than an underwear model catwalk show.
Check out Michelle Bauer’s CV on my review of 1313: BERMUDA TRIANGLE (2012). I’ll take a deeper dive at a later stage.
Chase Bennett’s career probably could have taken off, but apart from 1313: ACTOR SLASH MODEL, his other major movie is another DeCoteau/Kymlicka movie: SHOW WHITE: A DEADLY SUMMER (2012) where he features with a member of the Brady Bunch (Maureen McCormick) and Eric Roberts. He also appeared in FORTUNE COOKIE (2016).
Israel Korn has featured in a bunch of gay related content including 6 episodes (according to IMDb) of gay YouTube legend STEAM ROOM STORIES (including the intriguing GUYS WHO PISS ON THE TOILET SEAT, 2011) and THE BROTHERS SINCLAIR (2011). With only one other TV episode to his credit (in VICTORIOUS, 2011), Luke Allen only has DeCoteau credits: 1313: WICKED STEPBROTHER (2011) and 1313 HAUNTED FRAT (2011). Jared Edwards also appears mainly in DeCoteau with SPEED DEMON (2003) and a role in Robert Beaucage’s fantasy SPIKE (2008). Tyler Bachtel also appeared in DeCoteau’s NIGHTFALL (2009) and gave good model for both Abercrombie & Fitch and Calvin Klein. Skyler Hart went onto appear in 1313: BERMUDA TRIANGLE and has maintained a bit part career ever since (including a clutch of appearances in TV series THE GIRL’S GUIDE TO DEPRAVITY).
READING (between the lines…)
(1): 1313: ACTOR SLASH MODEL (2011), DVD Commentary Track, David DeCoteau & actor Chase bennett, Rapid Heart.
Screened late from DVD, 29 NOV 2020.