Make Believe Seattle 2023 Review: In POUNDCAKE, Everyone Wants A Slice Without Weighing The Costs
Catfight was an amusing and entertaining dark comedy to watch, and my first introduction to the work of director and actor Onur Tukel. Fast forward to 2023 and I’m now inclined a little more to keep the helmer’s resumè in my purview per his penchant for fun-poking satire, knowing full well what his target audience is, especially with his latest horror nod, Poundcake.
This film comes after just about everyone who’s ever had an opinion about anything. The prime focus here is placed surrounding the web of discourse that takes place as hype and hysteria set in New York City with the accumulating body count left by a serial killer: a brooding, portly, gimp mask-wearing chain murderer who targets cis white men, in some instances raping them until they die.
Numerous conversations about the incidents arise between several podcasts and guests with various hosts putting their spin on the crime wave with hot takes ranging from genuine terror to tongue-in-cheek, apathetic, or even conspiratorial. This presets many scenarios – partly including a corporate office, a boxing gym, a black conservative household, and a married man looking to bring his bi-curiosity full circle – in which conversations are had that teeter into racism, sexism, and homophobia.
The approach to the dialogue here is certainly jocular as it is bold, with Tukel’s script casting an often damning spotlight on each character’s own biases and brazen lack of self-awareness. Tukel’s script almost makes it easy to forget there’s a killer on the loose in this story, and the most interesting aspect here is the victim demographic which almost serves as a fuck you to every Tucker Carlson viewer that spends every waking moment crying about “wokeness” or buying into the “great replacement” theory.
The violence at the core of Poundcake, for the most part, is suggestive. Viewer discretion is advised for anyone not keen on rape narratives, while Tukel doesn’t push the envelope too far to the point of being offensive. The outlandishness matches evenly throughout without being exploitive, and even Tukel in co-star form puts himself in front of the lens, baring all to see and showing that he’s all about the message as he is about entertainment behind it.
Looking at the concepts and themes that drive the narrative in this film, I was keen on the old adage about the two beasts. Additionally, I was reminded of the last ten years I’ve been on social media, the last three of which have been the most condemnatory following the innumerable victims left in the wake of the pandemic, topped off by some of the internet’s worst false idols propagating themselves as messengers of truth and savior of children. I look at the harm done to us as a species and the lengthening stretch we’ll have to tread to recover from all that. That’s what Poundcake is for me. Only Tukel serves it out with a dose of sociopolitical introspection, boldness, and absurdist brilliance.
Poundcake was reviewed for the 2nd annual Make Believe Seattle Film Festival.
Native New Yorker. Lover of all things pizza, chocolate, pets, and good friends. Karaoke hero. Left of center. Survivor. Fond supporter of cult, obscure and independent cinema - especially fond of Asian movies and global action cinema. Author of the bi-weekly Hit List. Founder and editor of Film Combat Syndicate. Still, very much, only human.
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