Once upon a time, I used to go through all these indie flicks because I lived near a videostore that stocked a lot of random VHS movies. One of those random VHS flicks was this 2001 movie called Series 7. Basically, it’s put together like a marathon screening of a reality TV series called The Contenders where a bunch of random people are selected and they have to kill each other. It sounds ridiculous, right? But then again, a reality TV series like Jersey Shore also sounds ridiculous and a lot of people watch that show. And Series 7 comes pretty much during the height of the reality TV craze.
So the premise is that six strangers in a town are randomly selected in some lottery, and are given a gun and a cameraman. One of the six is the veteran contender who has won the last two seasons. If she wins this one, she gets to go free. And get this: she’s pregnant. The other contenders include a paranoid old guy who lives in a trailer, a old nurse, this ditzy teen, a pretentious artist who’s dying of cancer, and an unemployed bum. In each episode, they go around plotting to kill each other. And it rocks.
Why this movie rocks is because it sticks extremely closely to the reality TV format. If you were watching this on TV and not a DVD (or VHS as I originally watched it), you would be hard-pressed to doubt the authenticity of this show. The commercial breaks, the cheesy voice-overs, the random monologues when the contenders would just prattle about their life stories to the cameraman… it’s all exactly like a real TV show. And a good one too! The contenders were really well-acted, and have quirky personalities and backstories. One of my favorites is the teenager with the hyper-encouraging parents who strangely cheer her on to shoot an old man. Craaaazy! And there was that scene where her boyfriend wants her to give it up to him because she could die at any time and it’s a bad idea to die as a virgin. Priceless.
But the real star of the show is Brooke Smith as the pregnant veteran Dawn Lagarto. She may not look like Angelina Jolie or Cate Blanchett, but she is a pretty fucking solid actress. Her character has the most screen-time and development and she makes the most of it. I’m kinda surprised that her career didn’t really take off after this movie, but then again, I guess it’s because she doesn’t look like Angelina Jolie or Cate Blanchett. But she does get pretty regular TV work, appearing in shows like Heist, Crossing Jordon and Grey’s Anatomy. Good for her, I say. She’s awesome!
The pacing does get a bit slow in the middle (roughly the 3rd episode in the 5-episode marathon), but still I think this is one of those movies that really works when you got a bunch of friends over and wanna watch something just randomly fun and stupid.