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By Greg Bellavia | April 22, 2005

Human crash test dummies. The idea is as inspired as it is unrealistic. On the one hand there is the creepy set up of being tortured, not only physically but mentally, trapped in a car as it hurdles you towards a world of pain. On the other…well…the idea is kind of silly. These are the conflicting sides of Sam Voutas’ “Crash Test”.

Upon writing a tell all book regarding the shady business practices of Motorkore, expose writer Sala (writer/director Sam Voutas) finds himself their prisoner and human test subject. Having his name removed and being given a number by chief tormentor Valleriy (Melanie Ansely), Sala fights to stay alive along with fellow cellmate 47109 (Bruce Solibakke).

There are a lot of clever ideas present in “Crash Test; the fact Valleriy has plastic surgery to resemble Sala’s girlfriend in order to further break him, how Motorkore underling Limbo Jack (Steve Van Spall) uses a bulky voicebox in order to speak and last but certainly not least the character of Cindy Geeds (Katrina J Kiely) whose sole purpose in life is to record banal wake up call messages. These little touches are entertaining but also help to contrast the much larger problems present in “Crash Test”.

While some films benefit from taking themselves seriously and ignoring some of the more outlandish elements of the plot (Re: “Hostage”) others do not. “Crash Test” tries desperately to add an air of depth and emotion to the proceedings but never manages to overcome how ridiculous the plot is. Sala’s miraculous survival is credited to his being some sort of super human ala Neo in the “Matrix”, but this comes off as more of a Deus Ex Machina then tight screenwriting. The motivation behind Motorkore’s nefarious scheme is never credible either seeing how the effects they go out of their way to monitor (physical and psychological ramifications of a car crash) could either be seen using a crash test dummy or inferred. The idea of studying Sala’s mindset following the crashes is insane given how most people aren’t forced into cars against their will, rendering any real research null and void.

Also and of equal importance is the budgetary constraints present throughout the film. Now while there have been plenty of no budget indies that have managed to support outlandish ideas (RE: “Primer”) they do so using imagination and outside the box thinking. For a film filled with car crashes, an actual crash is never shown. We see Sala in the car, hear a crash and then see him either in a mangled car or even worse thrown free and lying on the ground. Moments like these further help to undermine the serious tone the film strives for and more effort should have been made to successfully convey the crashes to the audience.

Sam Voutas seems like he has a lot of good ideas and “Crash Test” is an excellent jumping off point for future projects but stands as an entertaining missed opportunity on its own.

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