The Editor is a work of garbage, and a masterpiece of stupidity. But before I elaborate, I must briefly discuss the horror sub-genre it’s based on. Giallo, which is Italian for yellow, is a subgenre of horror films that are influenced by pulpy Italian mystery novels, specifically the "Il Giallo Mondadori" series that became famous for its yellow covers (where the subgenre’s namesake derives from). Giallo films often contain striking imagery, horror elements and eroticism, and their themes concern alienation, sexuality and the descent into madness. Lucio Fulci, Mario Bava and Dario Argento are the most influential figures of this field, each of who uphold an impressive portfolio of horror cinema that still deeply resonates today. I admit, however, that I am not fond of Giallo films. The stories were always subpar compared to the rousing, breathtaking cinematography and hypnotic color palettes. Perhaps this is why I found The Editor to be mindless, but that’s not to infer that I did not get it.
The Editor is a 70’s-esque, 'Gaillo-inspired' slasher produced by Astron-6, the team behind Father’s Day and Manborg (I have not seen any of these). The film centers around Rey Ciso, a once revered genre film editor reluctantly working for a schlock horror production. However, when a cloaked madman begins killing the film’s cast and crew, an obsessed detective assigned to the case begins pointing fingers at Ciso. As the film progresses, we gradually descend into the madness of Giallo cinema, and we soon discover what’s really happening behind the scenes.
Unfortunately, The Editor is intentionally crafted to be a “so bad it’s good” film, which is nearly impossible to pull off successfully. Keep in mind, while the ineptitude of these good/bad films are entertaining, we, as an audience, understand that the filmmakers were sincere in their efforts. For more or less, that is where the humor stems from. There exits an air of innocents to their fallacies. It’s like watching a baby fall down as he’s trying to walk; they don’t know any better, and we think it’s cute. You can’t force this. Some of the hallmarks of funny/bad Giallo (or any foreign film converted for western audiences) are poorly timed dubbing, misguided voice-over actors, noticeably reparative or expository dialogue, gratuitous sex and/or nudity to compensate the lack of a story, and delightfully low-grade practical effects (the kind that makes blood look like red paint).
Let’s get back to The Editor. The lead investigator assigned to the murder cases, Peter Porfiry (played by Matthew Kennedy), inexplicably resembles Ron Burgundy. From his thick moustache to his tweed suit, to his forced debonair voice, he evokes the visage and mannerisms of Ron Burgundy. Whether it was intentional or not, I do not know, but it seems deliberate. He is a man trying to be macho. Like with most Ferrell comedies, the character lends a childish humor style. Our detective becomes a hopeless man-child. What aspect of Giallo are they parodying? There is a scene where he is recalling a moment of lovemaking where he is howling like a monkey, jumping up and down, and smearing mud over his face. What does this have to do with Giallo? It’s less of a parody and more of an SNL sketch, but it epitomizes the overall juvenile humor. You do not accomplish a funny/bad movie by winking at the camera. It dilutes the effect. It seems as though they were using Giallo as a vehicle to convey their tasteless humor.
Every actor and every line is clearly and purposefully dubbed over to ape the genre hallmark. Literally every track of dialogue is dubbed over in post. Nevertheless, blatant dubbing does not necessarily render a laugh. It’s the subtly that does. Ex: monotone line reads because the Italian filmmaker does not know how to communicate to the American voice-actor. When the actor on screen is having his 'Oscar moment' physically, it would be funny to hear the dub be stiff and monotone. Contrast equals funny. The Editor operates under the misguided conception that if it’s dubbed over, regardless of whether the voice-acting performance is stiff or genuine, it must funny. In reality, it makes the film more tedious. Furthermore, if the performance of the voice dub is genuine, it trivializes the joke. If you want a film that achieves the same gag, I recommend Kung Pow: Enter the Fist.
Now, let’s dive into the visuals. Where most Gaillo films lack in story or character, they make up for with flawless cinematography, vibrant color and geometrical composition. Almost every shot in a Gaillo film could easily be framed in an art gallery. Let’s take a look at a few examples now:
What about The Editor, a film whose gimmick is Gaillo? How did they approach this genre staple? According to the filmmakers, merely slapping a red or orange gel over their studio lights replicates the trademark appearance. I admit that color is a pivotal trait, and, like with Susperia, tinted lights are key, but it’s also the sets themselves that are colorful in addition to the camera placement. I understand The Editor does not have access to lavish sets (the primary sets are the police station, the editor’s editing room, and various residential interiors) but that does not excuse the missed opportunity for creativity. The film is meta. It would be funny to play off that. It would be funny if the main character were conscious of the 'artistic integrity' of each set. Something! An overly composed sequence of a man walking to his car is funnier than nothing at all.
All this rambling equates to this: The Editor was a dull humorless experience. I did not hate it; I found it boring. Maybe I did not get it, and if that is the case, I am willing to accept it. I am not familiar with Aston 6, so perhaps I am not familiar with their filmmaking style. As I’ve said before, I’m not partial to Gaillo, and maybe I do not fully understand the troupes; disregarding them, The Editor is still a miserable feature marked with childish humor, forgettable characters, and lacking the creative elegance to produce a memorable parody. It’s hard to imitate funny/bad. I will not discount the filmmakers, as they appear to have the competence to produce a good film. They may, for all I know, have a profound appreciation for the horror genre, specifically Gaillo, but that is not evident if you were to look at this film.
Since a lot of people liked the film, I may be in the minority.