The first time I saw the trailer for Andrew Hunt’s new film, Spare Parts, gave me several kinds of feels and flashbacks. Without question, I can certainly attest that fans of this genre will take a liking to what the longtime executive producer (Deeper: The Retribution Of Beth, Avenged, SuperGrid, Lifechanger, For The Sake Of Vicious) delivers in his second and only film in the last twelve years.
Returning to female empowerment narratives once more, Hunt, joined by screenwriters David Murdoch and Sven Rouskov, introduces the story of traveling road musicians, sisters Amy (Michelle Argyris) and Emma (Emily Alatalo), and romantically-involved bandmates Cassy (Kiriana Stanton) and Jill (Chelsea Muirhead). When it comes to the music, they play hard, and with unruly patrons and stage hoppers, they fight harder, and more often and not, some of that fighting occurs in-house, especially between Amy and Emma with their differences.
As their evening winds down after another bar brawl and the usual creeper or two, the girls are back on the road until a familiar face from their previous crowd terrorizes them into a ditch, resulting in a busted tire. After calling for help and thinking they’ve found some reprieve, the band arrive at a small facility near a vast junkyard where they’re inevitably trapped and inoculated, and later awoken to a nightmare they never expected.
The girls discover they’ve become prisoners to an underworld occult, overseen by a self-proclaimed Emperor (Julian Richings) imbued with the favor of the gods to lead his junkyard town of devout followers to salvation. The key to that salvation? Blood on the Gridiron, a makeshift battle arena where fighters and killers enter, and it’s everyone for themselves.
Thrust into the fight with weapons affixed to where their right arms used to be, the fight immediately proves to be consequential for the girls, who are then forced to train under the guidance of Driller (Ryan Allen) whilst living in squalor. Things take a different turn for Emma though, under the watchful eye of the manipulative Sam (Jason Rouse) as he grooms her for his own potential personal gain under the Emperor’s radar. With the contests getting more deadlier and challenging, the girls are inevitably pitted against each other in what looks to be a hopeless battle for their freedom.
Some of the larger focus in Spare Parts centers on the dichotomy between Amy and Emma. Amidst their shared differences between one another is a lack of real understanding which makes things even more perpendicular with Sam wedging his way into Emma’s head, and you begin to wonder if or when she starts coming apart at the seams. A big twist happens in the second half that contributes to this aspect of the story involving Emma’s boyfriend, though it does bode as a bit forced and nonsensical, and purposefully, at that.
Strong contours of color and their various textures are some of the bigger standouts in Spare Parts that keep you watching, and it helps given that much of what we see is shot at night, which makes the film’s lighting and color treatment all the more important, otherwise it would’ve been intolerable. The action and violence – featuring stunts and fights coordinated respectively by James Mark and Chris Mark (Kill Order, Enhanced) are a plus as well; a few of the more gory shots are more tame but close ups of chainsaws gutting torsos, limbs being peeled open like bananas to expose blood and bone, and Cassy sledgehammering a skull are just a few of the things you can expect to grab your attention for the film’s duration with certain delight.
Indeed, Spare Parts grants you an ending that takes you back into the Twilight Zone some, so it’s kind of expected for a film that thrives on its audacity, gratuity, escapism and vivaciousness, while harkening back to the halcyon days of Sam Raimi and Noboru Iguchi. The actresses all do a formidable job with the physicality they bring to their performances, and for all of the films I’ve seen out of the more than 200 film and TV credits he has, it’s fun seeing Richings take the villain mantle with such ferocity.
Spare Parts will arrive on VOD, Digital, DVD and Blu-ray on June 1, 2021, from RLJE Films, a business unit of AMC Networks.