Director: Seve Schelenz
Screenwriter: Lisa DeViata, Seve Schelenz
Cast: Wren Walker, Caz Odin Darko, Madison J. Loos
Runtime: 95 mins
Review by Dave Griffiths
A quick read through of the synopsis of Peelers and I know how a lot of you will be feeling – a horror film set in a strip club… sleaze central, right? Wrong!!! It may come as a big surprise but Peelers is probably one of the best horror films that you are likely to see in 2016. One viewing of this film and you will soon see how this become an award winning film at nearly every film festival it has screened at world wide and why those festival screenings have now resulted in Peelers being one of the most anticipated films of 2017.
Like previously mentioned Peelers is set in a small town strip club run by the baseball obsessed Blue ‘Don’t Call Me BJ’ Jean (Wren Walker – Man From Nowhere). It is in fact the final night of the strip club operating as Blue Jean has just sold it to a businessman who plans on bulldozing the club, something that her staff including Remy (Caz Odin Darko – Wind Chill), Carla (Kirsty Peters – Not For The Saving) and Elaine (Nikki Wallin – Madness) have become painfully aware of.
However, the supposed quiet night at the club turns into a game of life and death when the club is suddenly over-run by a horde of ‘affected’ humans who aren’t that easy to kill. Just to cause even more problems for Blue Jean her son Logan (Madison J. Loos – The Tooth Fairy) turns up on the run from the Police after choosing to steal a Police Cruiser.
A lot of credit must be paid to director Seve Schelenz (Skew) for Peelers. Somewhere in amongst pregnant strippers giving birth and other strippers performing memorable routines on the club’s stage we find a hard-hitting horror film that not only makes you like its characters but also makes you want to root for their survival. Then there is also one of the most creative ‘evils’ to have surfaced in a horror film for quite awhile.
Together screenwriter Lisa DeVita (first time screenwriter) and Schelenz make the perfect filmmaking team. As a writer DeVita has created one of the more impressive female heroines for a horror film in the form of Blue Jean. She is tough, independent but also vulnerable enough for an audience to realise that she is at risk, not only from the evil at hand but also from life itself. Added that to the fact that she is baseball obsessed and a strip club owner and DeVita has done all she can to make Blue Jean a memorable character that is more than just the one-dimensional hero that so many of these films tune out. DeVita also needs to be congratulated for coming up with a very creative form of evil that ties in with some great subtext about big business. Another great touch to Peelers is the nice touch of sexual tension that shows up between Remy and Blue Jean without becoming a cliché or a distracting part of the film.
To make the perfect duo to work though director Seve Schelenz then has to (excuse the baseball pun) step up to the plate and he does that remarkably well. Schelenz manages to make some of the more risqué stripping sequences memorable but then on the other hand creates some moments of true suspense while the characters try to work out how to kill the affected. He does more than enough with Peelers to have labelled as a horror director that we simply must see more from.
Perhaps the person who gains the most from the talents of Lisa DeVita though is actress Wren Walker who plays the lead Blue Jean so amazingly well she makes the makes the character truly someone you will never forget. Walker has been landed one of the horror genres best characters on a plate and she delivers in spades. Whether it be a scene where she is having to strip, battle the affected or have a heart-to-heart with her son Walker delivers the goods and you can only hope Hollywood embraces this actress and we see her in some big blockbusters very, very soon. She is also well supported by Madison J. Loos who also announces himself as an actor to watch.
Peelers is a film that any horror film is going to love from start to finish. Instead of making the film sleazy setting it in a strip club makes it unique and interesting. Pieced together by a creative filmmaking team this low budget horror delivers a perfect heroine and a creative evil that deserves to go down in horror genre folklore. Yes Peelers is a cult classic and will be a film that people talk about for years to come.
Peelers is screening at A Night Of Horror (Sydney). You can purchase tickets.