It’s pretty evident when watching Attack of the Tattie-Bogle that the indie slasher is a passion project.
Let’s bitch it out…
The low budget film, shot on MiniDV and made for $3000 over ten years, is lean and mean; it’s a bare bones film whose strengths and weaknesses lie in its hyperaccelerated execution.
The set-up is brief and perfunctory: a loosely connected group of approximately 13 friends gather at Sam’s Lake, Wisconsin for an Independence Day weekend of drinking. They’re a (mostly) rambunctious bunch, just as likely to light fireworks off the boat and instigate heated disagreements as they are to practice archery and play bocce ball. As night falls, the group separates into various sleeping arrangements, including two houses a hundred feet apart and, for a slightly more adventurous pair, a tent in the woods.
Then, without warning, a man in a burlap scarecrow mask barges into one house and brutally dispatches everyone.
With such a large group of characters, the near immediate winnowing of half the cast proves to be a bit of genius. I had a fair amount of trouble distinguishing between the various cast members, so the cull was a bit of a relief. The initial scenes of Attack of the Tattie-Bogle doesn’t offer a great deal of character work, so there’s no real love lost for any of these people. Rather, the initial attack serves to kick start the film and get the adrenaline pumping. There’s no time for grieving or fretting, either; once the attacks begin, the rest of the film is a race to the finish line.
The film is clearly a labour of love for multifaceted talent Pete Marcy, who serves as writer/director/producer and actor. Attack of the Tattie-Bogle strikes an interesting balance between what works and doesn’t work in equal measures. The fast pace of the film virtually negates any character development, so my notes are filled with generic descriptors about characters in an effort to differentiate them (misogynist boat guy, short shorts runner guy, camper couple, archery guy, glasses). Even after losing half of the cast, the action takes precedent so there’s little to no investment in who lives and who dies.
At the same time, however, the film’s refusal to adhere to convention results in at least two or three genuinely surprising deaths as someone who seemed destined to ascend to lead protagonist is struck down. Marcy’s priority is to create a gripping, bloody slasher and what he loses in character, he makes up for in shock and action.
The tiny budget proves not to be detrimental to the final effect. There are no fancy prosthetics (or even much blood for that matter), but the actors performing their own stunts are game and the film is shot and edited in a way that makes it clear what happened without requiring gory effects. Marcy is also adept at staging and filming action scenes, including an attack filmed from the point of view of someone trapped in a treehouse and an extended chase scene that finds victim and killer outside, running through the garage, into the house, down the stairs into the basement and battling to the death in the space of a minute.
One final amusing observation: I don’t believe the attacker is never mentioned by his titular name (a tattie-bogle is another term for a scarecrow). This makes the title an odd choice for an American film, whose audiences are unlikely to be familiar with the term.
The Bottom Line: Attack of the Tattie-Bogle is a lean and mean slasher film that’s light on character development and glossy production values. If audiences simply go along for the ride, however, they’ll discover that this microbudget labour of love is a quick, fun thrill ride.
Attack of the Tattie-Bogle plays MidWest Fearfest on Saturday, March 10 at 8pm.