Holla If You Hear Me (AKA Holla If You Hear Me Kill You) (2006)

I feel obliged to review this movie less because it’s urban horror than in order to clarify that I had nothing to do with it whatsoever. You see, the director has the same name as me (Mark Harris), and as much as I admire his parents for their good taste, I can’t — and indeed don’t want to — take credit for anything that appears onscreen.

Along with Holla and Holla If I Kill You, Holla If You Hear Me marks the third such-titled urban horror film in recent years, making one hope there’ll never be a Fo’ Sheezy trilogy. This Holla is supposedly “based on real events” but undermines its own credibility right off the bat when hit music producer and label CEO Sniper (Redell Drakeford) is shown returning to his lower middle-class hovel. Maybe if he had a nicer house with a burglar alarm, a hooded killer wouldn’t be able to break in and stab him to death. Oops, too late.

The killer, who wears a mask that makes him look more depressing than scary, steals CDs full of Sniper’s tracks, which we find out are worth $10 million. OKAAAAAY, so who has $10 million worth of music just lying around, much less in a shack in the middle of the ‘hood? And what does the killer think he’s gonna do with these tracks? He doesn’t think anyone would become suspicious if he suddenly comes up with all these hot beats that sound mysteriously like the producer who just got slashed? And who’s saying anyone would buy his beats anyway? The tracks are worth $10 million only because they have the name recognition of the producer attached to them. But I digress. On with the “true story”…

The rest of the movie is devoted to the label’s roster of rappers and singers, all of whom had a reason to kill Sniper — other than his treasure trove of “hot tracks”, that is. The movie thus becomes an Agatha Christie-as-done-by-BET whodunit, with six musicians stuck in a music studio arguing over who has the motive (not to mention who is the best rapper, who is racist and the extent to which someone is or is not a ho), while the real killer picks ’em off one by one.

Why the killer would want to kill all of the other suspects, though, is beyond me; wouldn’t he want to create as much doubt as possible as to who the culprit is? Not only does the killer off the artists, though, he does away with a label executive, a couple of security guards, two groupies, some random office workers, even a poor, innocent cleaning lady. It all serves no point other than to raise the body count, which admittedly is rather impressive (14 in all, by my count).

That said, in order to enjoy the kills, you have to wade through inane dialogue, unsubtle acting (utilizing techniques like peering over your glasses with an eyebrow cocked), production gaffes (visible boom mike, a police file that has a victim’s name clearly written on it before the body is even found, WRONG MOVIE TITLE IN THE CREDITS!!!), horrible music and direction that aims to be that edgy, NYPD Blue “in-focus, out-of-focus, shaky camera” but end up feeling like “I don’t know how to control the zoom feature — oops, I accidentally knocked the camera over because I don’t have a tripod” direction.

That said, Holla If You Hear Me isn’t any worse than a lot of other movies with much better cover art and distribution deals; it’s certainly a step above drek like Zombiez and Hood of the Living Dead. Now THAT is scary…

At particularly tender moments, Jerome liked to give butterfly fist bumps.
“I really should wear a shirt in the office…”
…And screw all you deaf people.
“I guess you’re wondering why I brought you together,” Frank said to his eyes.
“Sigh. Dad was right; I need to go back to DeVry.”
“If you call me Black Groucho Marx one more time, I’m gonna smother you with my eyebrows.”
Percy’s attempt to blend in with the sky had little impact indoors.

What do you think?