Projections - Movie Reviews

Series 7 Series 7

Series 7 is Daniel Minahan's sharp, stark satire on the influx of "reality TV" on contemporary society.  Even those really into the Survivor phenomenon may raise an eyebrow, when the show's slogan is "Real People, Real Danger."  The contestants have to hunt one another to achieve the prize of saving their own life while killing others.

With a film crew experienced in film and TV, Minahan has shot Series 7 on digital video, "reality TV style" and it's quite effective in looking at people who'll behave viciously on camera.  The film explains that the show has been a ratings hit for seven seasons with Dawn, the eight-month pregnant champ who has ten kills in two tours battling against five new contenders to preserve her status as the crowning sole survivor.  Series 7 plays out as a post-modern slant on Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" with an appealing lethal ardor, as acted with quiet desperation and raw emotion by Brooke Smith (the pit girl from Silence of the Lambs).

Shot in 21 days over a four week period, Minahan, who has experience in documentary features and has worked for Fox News has his biting new age Network that probably pushes the limits of reality TV.  Shooting excessive footage to work graphics, promotional banners, and interviews, candidly akin to MTV's "The Real World" as recaps and slow-motion re-enactment of killings are well-edited throughout Series 7.

Dawn's latest opponents include a wacky old trailer park denizen, Franklin (Richard Venture), an ER nurse, Connie (Marylouise Burke) who stays busy as a devout Catholic and is adroit with hypodermic needles.  The droll and darkly farcical tone also includes the idle asbestos remover Tony (Michael Kaycheck), an unhappy father and Lindsay (Merritt Weaver) are eager to chauffeur to the best killing grounds.  But, the one who provides the most drama, compliments of Minahan's insightful script, is Jeff, Glenn Fitsgerald's artist who's hospitalized for testicular cancer, he was Dawn's high school bohemian lover.

As in Survivor, heating up down under in the outback, some contestants will appeal to the masses in varying degrees.  The deviously meticulous Connie is wryly willful and Franklin doesn't do much prior to a bloody sequence in a mall that won't sit well with many, especially older patrons.

However, Series 7 isn't an opaque satire by any means.  By today's standards, it's a dark prism that reflects off of each of us from the stance of the MTV generation.  Being a product of the Sundance Lab, Minahan and company aren't afraid to challenge and stimulate the fabric of independent film making by putting Dawn's infant in a dangerous "real" world, with outrageous moments from everyday gladiatorial contenders.

Series 7

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