That being said I tried to ignore as much hype and gum-flapping surrounding Murder-Set-Pieces as possible. Of course I had heard of it, and I had heard about both the positive and negative press about it. However, all I had really read, and properly digested, was an article in an issue of Ultra-Violent. That did get me interested, but I still didn't get around to watching it, probably because the price tag was too high.
One thing I was sure of though is that I did not want to watch the Lionsgate release, without having seen the unrated version first. If I am going to watch something I want to see it as it was originally planned by the director. Fortunately I recently acquired a copy from a friend (cheers squire) and a couple of days ago sat down to watch it.
The plot, of which there isn't an awful lot of in all honesty, surrounds the exploits of a photographer, who happens to be a Neo Nazi, that likes nothing more in his spare time than to rape, murder and generally abuse young women.
The bad news for camera boy is that his current girlfriend's younger sister Jade (Jade Risser) has her suspicions about him, not that anyone believes her of course.
So the movie alternates between the two characters right up until the very end.
Murder-Set-Pieces is an incredibly nasty movie from start to finish, and credit must be given to director Nick Palumbo for bring a character as repellent as the Photographer to life. Here is one person that has no qualms about who he kills, which does include children, or about how he goes about killing them. nasty doesn't even start to describe him. Actor Sven Garrett really did give an excellent, if chilling, performance here.
Murder-Set-Pieces also has cameo performances by Tony Todd, in an amusing Porn Store scene, as well as Gunnar Hansen as a Nazi gundealer. The rest of the cast do perform quite well, especially young Jade Risser, who probably had the hardest role to play of them all.
This is also a rather well made movie, surprisingly so in-fact. From the lighting and sound to the quality of the film itself, i have to say I was impressed.
Despite all this though I did feel slightly underwhelmed by the whole experience. It could have used a little more in the plot department, as we don't really get to know much about the Photographer's background other than his apparent family links to the Third Reich. I just would have liked to have seen a bit more in there to beef it up a little.
There is also a scene that some may well feel goes a little too far involving an infant. I didn't feel it was necessary to the movie's development as we already know the lead character is a despicable asshole. If it was an exercise to see how far Palumbo could push what is acceptable then I guess he succeeded, even if it the scene mentioned is not in the slighest bit graphic, it was still disturbing.
That aside Murder-Set-Pieces is a good movie, not great, but certainly one that grabs your attention and holds it until the end.
So, regardless of all the hype surrounding it, I would definitely recommend catching this at least once, especially if you like your movies on the brutal side. All I'd say though is you try and catch the unrated version, as I really can't imagine what the R rated version would be like, apart from very short!Rating 2.5 stars (out of 4)
Review by Jude Felton