Darontay McClendon, Vi Reasons, Darris Love, Don Cambell and Six
Directed by: Adam Ripp
Written by: Steven Wolfson and Adam Ripp
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.
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.
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.
(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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
the interview with Director Adam Ripp here.
for rent or purchase.
* Production Commentary
* Unedited Freestyle Rap
* Making Of...
* Deleted Scenes
* Theatrical Trailer
* Storyboard Comparisons
* Music Presentation
* English & Spanish Subtitles
* Trailer, Scene Access, Interactive Menus