My feelings are divided concerning the horror-comedy short, The Podcast Ripper. On the one hand, the film is purely “Directing 101.” On the other hand, I admire the central conceit of a podcaster serial killer. It’s about time somebody took on a project that skewered those disembodied voices that seem to pop up whenever someone gets a hold of a mic and a pair of headphones.
I wish this film had the discipline to be that project. Alas, The Podcast Ripper is content to indulge in insipid humor that goes nowhere. The Podcast Ripper (Josh Keeler – for brevity’s sake, let’s call him TPR) incurs goofy interruption after goofy interruption while trying to record his podcast. Every time TPR sits down at his recording console, he is disturbed by a knock at the door. The first interruption comes from his neighbor and fellow podcaster (Terral Altom), who stops by to request that TPR keep the noise down.
Next, a policeman (Troy Musil) barrels into TPR’s apartment with his gun drawn, much to the relief of TPR’s would-be victim of the week, Bobbie (Katelin Christenson), who has remained bound and gagged this entire time. Unfortunately for Bobbie, the cop reveals himself to be a rabid TPR fan and is positively giddy when TPR offers him some merch. This is indicative of the type of satire that The Podcast Ripper hadn’t the nerve to develop.
“Every time TPR sits down at his recording console, he is disturbed by a knock at the door.”
Finally, Amber (Victoria DeMare), a former subject of TPR’s podcast, appears like the Ghost of Podcasts’ Past, with the intention of exacting revenge on TPR. Without giving anything away, the film relies upon the old saying, “the show must go on.”
If The Podcast Ripper had put more effort into parodying today’s seemingly oversaturation of podcasts, it might have been onto something. Perhaps writer-director Brad Lohan could have dived deeper into TPR’s sense of narcissism that informs his murderous tendencies. What might the complexities be behind TPR’s reasons for choosing the victims he does? Did they, perhaps, illegally download his podcast? As a relatively recent communications phenomenon, podcasting is prime for parody.
But none of the characters register any depth beyond their one-note defining attribute (psycho, neighbor, crazy cop, ghoul), so it’s tough to care, even on a superficial level, about any of them.
And that is why I remain torn with regard to my opinion of The Podcast Ripper. I realize that a director’s first few creations may take the form of what discerning or uppity eyes would view as amateurish. But that doesn’t mean that there can’t be at least an attempt at profundity in a project.
If there was more attention paid at the story level in The Podcast Ripper, Lohan could have given us a potentially scathing satire of the podcasting world. Unfortunately, what we have is a missed opportunity.
"…a missed opportunity."