Gang Tapes
Starring:Trivell, Darontay McClendon, Vi Reasons, Darris Love, Don Cambell and Six Reasons
Directed by: Adam Ripp
Written by: Steven Wolfson and Adam Ripp
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Gang Tapes is terrifying. It's no watered down clean cut Quaalude dipped prime-time special on the state of gang life. Instead it's a speed slapping adrenaline rush that will snap you into attention and leave its moral undercurrent of how unending and unrewarded gang life is fresh in your mind for weeks to come.

It starts off shaky. You're thinking, "Oh dear, another indie DV film made by Joe and his gang after a few beers." Wrong. And thankfully just as you're about to give up and shut the dvd off in dismal despair and repulsion the action starts.

The hohum milktoast family of tourists we've been watching as they stroll around Hollywood partaking in the usual overpriced visitor traps get carjacked in da wrong part of town. The hoodz take the car, the goods and their DV recorder.

Things start to pick up and flow at a lightening quick speed. The Los Angeles south central area gang members that jacked the family give the camera over to a young neighborhood guy named Kris.

Kris (Trivell) is a just a kid that hangs with the gang and is slowly being drawn into their lifestyle of mischief and mayhem with a side of crime.

Kris is instantly mad for the camera and fancies himself an independent film maker. Because of his relationship with the leaders of his gang, he is allowed to tape some pretty heavy events as they happen. We are left, like unseen voyeurs, watching the events the call life transpire. We gasp, shriek and sit glued to the screen. Frightening.

As Kris gets deeper into the abyss of ganglife we see robberies, rape, and bonding on such a private level and shot so completely as if "Kris" were just holding a camera on the events as they took place, you get chills on back of your neck and an uneasy feeling in your gut.

Okay I know immediately you're saying hey, Blair Witch Project did this too. Yes you're right. And as with BWP this shoestring film succeeds where others that have attempted the real-life discovery of the real-life tapes and have failed. I know all clever shoestring mock-docs must be compared to "The Project" but this may (if anyone sees it) become the new comparison guide for DV film viewers in the genre. Though Gang Tapes is decidedly more violent and brutal about its subjects in a matter-of-fact way so viewing isn't for all.

After I watched the film I watched the making of —- just to reassure myself it wasn't real. Director Adam Ripp and his crew put a lot of effort into fooling us. They even cast gang members, "amateur" actors from South Central to play gang members from South Central.

Yes it is shot on the "anybody can make a film" medium of DV but it's for works like this that one often forgives the unfluent delivery of its image and the often ill-lit shots. The affect may be so terrifying because of the cheap DV. It looks like this kid Kris just followed his crew and rolled the tape.

Gang Tapes is one helluva film; pure cinema heroin. There are few flickering flaws. Mostly at the hands of the inexperienced actors and some manipulating of the scenes to encourage our reactions - they equal the few times you were aware this was actors and a script on film. But if you're a film buff and into seeing the art stretched and plied correctly - find it! But remember its brash, violent and scary - then again the truth always is.

Read the interview with Director Adam Ripp here.

Available for rent or purchase.

DVD Special Features:
* Production Commentary
* Unedited Freestyle Rap
* Making Of...
* Deleted Scenes
* Theatrical Trailer
* Storyboard Comparisons
* Music Presentation
* English & Spanish Subtitles
* Trailer, Scene Access, Interactive Menus


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Nine out of ten of
my psychiatrists recommend it!- EM


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