Kill Switch and Menashe are further proof that making a movie doesn’t have to cost a lot or take a lot of time to make. Perhaps it was The Blair Witch Project that woke aspiring movie makers up to the fact that anyone can make a movie on the cheap.
Menashe and Kill Switch were both low-budget films, and deliberately so. Major film companies often lose money on high-budget films, and especially this summer’s releases. With budgets sometimes over $100 million, big film companies have a lot to lose, but the little guys do have a chance to make a small profit, even this summer.
Menashe was filmed without any well-known stars. The title role is actually played by Menashe Lustig, who is portraying a loose interpretation of his own life. The film’s director, Joshua Z. Weinstein, normally directs documentaries. Menashe Lustig is a YouTube short filmmaker as well as a powerfully religious Orthodox Jew. The film stars are otherwise ordinary people, according to Vulture.
Dan Stevens shot Kill Switch in four days, All related filming took only 18 days total according to Hollywood Reporter. Kill Switch didn’t take up a whole lot of professional actor Dan Stevens’ time, so the producers paid him accordingly.
Kill Switch directors Tim Smit and Steven Roeters spent only €150 to make their first short film which got 2.6 million views on YouTube. Even now Smit and Roeters are hardly breaking the bank with their feature film, Kill Switch, according to Variety. Smit did his own CG special effects with some pretty cool results.
Menashe and Kill Switch have nothing in common except for their low budget and their YouTube beginnings. Still, it’s an interesting comparison, because they are so different.
Menashe is a heartwarming story about Menashe, a member of a Hasidic sect of Orthodox Judaism. When Menashe’s wife passes, he loses custody of his son until he can find a suitable wife. The story is authentic to the Orthodox culture. The characters are well developed and extremely real according to the New York Times.
“Joshua Z. Weinstein, the director, shot the film in Yiddish and often in secret in Hasidic neighborhoods. His images are unaffected and candid, with wordless close-ups that speak for themselves… Menashe himself is not always easy to like. He can be clever and friendly yet foolish and wrong: In other words, he’s awfully real.”
Kill Switch is an action film about the creation of a parallel universe called echo, created for the purpose of exploiting echo’s resources. The plan goes horribly wrong and Dan Stevens’ character, a pilot, is faced with saving the world. The film is shot from a first-person perspective, like a first-person-shooter video game.
Kill Switch had all the making of a good film, but it failed to deliver according to Variety.
“[Kill Switch creates] fascinating corporate dystopia, but never quite fills in the clarifying details. In an effort to throw viewers into the action as quickly as possible, the film cuts back-and-forth between an astronaut’s death-defying mission in a parallel universe and the mundane circumstances that brought him there.”
Menashe got great reviews from Rotten Tomatoes. The critics rated Menashe 95 percent fresh, while 76 percent of the audience said they liked Menashe.
Kill Switch rated poorly with Rotten Tomatoes. The critics gave it only 12 percent fresh and only 25 percent of the audience liked it. Todd Jorgenson of Cinemalogue explained the failure of the Kill Switch plot to drive its point.
“Through visual trickery and a jumbled chronology, the muddled film is structured as a puzzle about corporate greed, socioeconomic class and technological overreach that most moviegoers won’t care enough to solve.”
Still, Kill Switch works as a high-action film. The graphics are good and the concept is great. The low-budget first-person formula was not the problem at all, so the method was good. Plot development seems to be the main problems with Kill Switch.
Because Menashe and Kill Switch are very dissimilar in plot and genre, they open up a new world of low-budget filmmaking. B Grade movies are nothing new, and many went on to be cult classics and beloved nostalgic favorites.
Both Menashe and Kill Switch still have a chance of gaining classic status, and neither film was expensive to make. With the box office declines in recent years, only amplified this summer, Menashe and Kill Switch might both be an inspiration for both film studios and ordinary folks who always wanted to make a movie.
Kill Switch and Menashe could each be a blueprint for future movies. The documentary style of Menashe was highly effective and saved a lot on the budget. Similarly, the action scenes in Kill Switch were produced at a very low cost, and that too offers promise to the often expensive action genre.
With most Hollywood filmmakers worried about how to recoup the hundreds of millions of dollars lost by this summer’s films, Kill Switch and Menashe producers are resting pretty easy, no matter how it goes at the box office.
Menashe offers a lot of hope for thrifty filmmaking. Menashe has grossed $701,192 at the box office according to IMDb. While that isn’t a lot for a movie, it is likely it showed a profit.
Dan Stevens’ Kill Switch and Menashe could both be the way of the future of cinema.
[Featured Image by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images]