There’s a sequence in street artist Banksy’s 2010 documentary/mockumentary *Exit Through the Gift Shop* in which the subject of the film, a French immigrant obsessed with street art, compiles years worth of video footage he’s taken of artists into a single 90 minute movie. The result is a fever dream of jump cuts, seemingly spliced together without any rhyme or reason. Banksy dubs the film utterly unwatchable.
You might see where I’m going with this.
The plot to *Sledgehammer* goes as follows: Yolner, a young construction worker who we learn in flashback was raised to believe in the Norse Gods, is late for work, dumped by his girlfriend, and then pranked by co-workers into drinking coffee laced with what I can only assume is potent LSD designed by the CIA in order to send our elite military forces into unstoppable, remorseless killing machines (how two cliche redneck construction workers got this LSD is besides the point; maybe they’re CIA operatives testing out the LSD on the unsuspecting public). After sipping the coffee, Yolner is instantly transformed into a mindless automation of death, wielding a sledgehammer from the construction site to kill a series of hapless victims (starting with his boss).
The film then essentially follows this pattern: We are introduced to a set of characters (an elderly couple walking their dog, a guy working up the nerve to propose to his pregnant girlfriend, a guy contemplating suicide by jumping off a bridge, a security guard itching to use his sidearm on a suspect, a pack of guys that look to be well into their thirties that ride BMX bikes, a weird Halloween mask wearing cult led by a white rastafarian poser, a wannabe superhero and on and on and on), Yolner runs up to the characters, and attacks them. This is always intercut with images of flabby guys wearing viking style gear flexing and screaming, Yolner looking dazed and confused, and flashes to Yolner’s childhood.
The film is framed by two devices. The first is Yolner’s ex girlfriend on a date with a new suitor, detailing why she broke up with Yolner, learning of his killing spree, etc. The second is an “After Death Cam”, which functions sort of like a confessional booth on a reality show; characters pounded to death by Yolner find themselves talking about how they were killed and what it felt like.
Sledgehammer is purposefully disjointed, and aggressively avant garde. The filmmakers have done their best to cover up their shortcomings (acting, directing, sound design, cinematography, and most importantly, story) with video effects, lens filters, slapstick antics, abrupt jump cuts, and relentless EDM audio saturation explained in story as drug induced hallucinations. It’s as though a group of frat kids that had a Troma movie marathon intercut with a Rob Zombie movie or two, *Natural Born Killers* and ending with Harmony Korine’s *Trash Humpers* decided they could do that, and rather than write a script or even get a night’s sleep, they jumped into improving a movie with friends and family over the course of a weekend, then let their little cousin who is in a middle school media tech class edit it, urging him to go crazy with visual effects and to cut as little as possible. The incentive for their nephew to edit this mind numbing footage? There’s two pairs of boobs awkwardly buried in this movie for no reason.
If only someone had filmed the making of Sledgehammer from inception to the premiere. That, I’d be curious to see.
Where’s Banksy when you need him?
Craig is a co host of the Half Assed Horrorcast. His writing about horror has appeared on Bloody Good Horror, Fanboy Report and other places. Find him on twitter @4colorcraig.