This little independent thriller has only one black actor, but he’s the featured star — sort of the cinematic version of Simi Valley electing a black mayor. Jeff Hollins plays Carl, a stereotypically burnt-out ex-cop who’s called back for “one last case.” He’d quit the homicide beat after accidentally shooting a little girl whom a killer was using as a human shield (really, though, the kid has to take some responsibility), and afterwards, he decided to distance himself from the trauma by becoming…a crime scene photographer? Carl’s ex-partner, Lenny (not really, but that would’ve been damn funny) recruits him to help catch “the Patchwork Killer,” who likes to — you guessed it — “cut up” his victims and sew the body parts back in random places. (Pablo Picasso evades suspicion by conveniently being dead.)
Despite — or rather, because of — some questionable police work (e.g., crime scene pics are plastered on the front page of the newspaper, and the concept of backup is nonexistent), Cut Up remains a genuine whodunit until the end. Some nice, shadowy cinematography and a “dream versus reality” theme also make it an atmospheric film that’s a “cut above” typical low-budget thrillers. If only Cut Up had been more popular, maybe we could’ve been treated to sequels like Cut Down, Cut In, Cut Off, Cut It Out and Cut a Wide Swath: The Director’s Cut.