REVIEW: Spare Parts (FrightFest 2020)
When it comes to picking the films that I’m going to watch at Frightfest, I have a specific criteria that I like to meet. These are weird or unique films that may be classed as different in the genre, or films that are known as ‘gorefest films’. Which leads us to Spare Parts.
Spare Parts follows four girl rock members that get abducted after their tour van breaks down on the side of an empty road. When they wake up in an abandoned scrap yard, they discover that they have been modified, and have had weapons fixed to their arms. They’re then told that they have to fight in a gladiator-style arena to appease the cult’s gods.
Spare Parts is a perfect addition to Frighfest Film Festival and deserves to be viewed in a group. Watching this did make me miss the festival crowd. The fight scenes, gore and setting would surely have gained a positive reaction, and its short running time is perfect for a festival setting. While it is enjoyable, it does eventually become predictable due to its recognisable format. The four girls are pitted against other people in rounds of fights, so a death scene is to be expected, either from the person they’re fighting, or from the fighter that the film is focused on. The film doesn’t bring anything new to the horror genre, but it is an enjoyable rollercoaster ride, nonetheless.
Sometimes, a film that can be labelled as a ‘gorefest film’ struggles when it comes to its main cast. The characters are either awful or are given very little character development. However, this is an exception. The four main actresses (Michelle Argyris, Emily Alatalo, Kiriana Stanton, Chelsea Muirhead) carry the film comfortably, and immediately embrace their roles, making the audience support them. They start the film as members of a feuding rock band and are seen arguing and constantly disagreeing with each other in terms of the band’s direction. While, in other films, this would come across as annoying, it makes sense here. They’re a touring band who have been on the road for a long time. When someone is in someone else’s company constantly for a long period of time, this can often be the case, and has proven to happen with other bands, resulting in them splitting up. While the feuds would’ve been grating in other films, it definitely works here.
While some of the main cast lasts longer than others, they each get their own time to adjust to their new strange surroundings, and to further the plot as the cult that kidnapped them try and persuade them that they’ve been brought here for a good reason. Each character has their own stories and reasons for continuing to fight (one of them is for revenge, while another is just surviving until she finds a way to escape). These story arcs make the film interesting and help lengthen out the overall plot. The most interesting story arc was between Emma and cult member Sam. Emma, the least confident member of the band, grows to become a strong and confident fighter, thanks to the cult’s manipulation, specifically Sam’s.
The film’s practical effects and gore are fantastic, but only appear when it’s necessary to the plot. Scenes like the girls getting weapons attached to their limbs doesn’t show as much gore as it does during the actual amputation scene, which the film happily shows in gruesome fashion. It’s not afraid to let the blood pour during a fight scene but is comfortable to stop the bloodshed to let the characters develop either through exposition or through training montages. While I would’ve originally compared Spare Parts to Evil Dead (2013) when I watched this, that may not be the case now that I’m writing about the film at a later date. Unlike the 2013 film, this film lets the audience take a breath between each bloody fight.
Over all, Spare Parts is a familiar gorefest film, but still enjoyable. Its main cast are interesting, and ones that the audience can support all the way through to the end. Furthermore, the film gives them enough character development to help further the plot. The gore and practical effects are fantastic, but only pour onto the screen when its necessary. Spare Parts is the perfect addition to Frightfest film festival, and one that would’ve been a lot of fun to watch with the festival crowd.