killaseason.jpgWhen Cam’ron boasted “First movie ever/Merked out Mekhi Phife,” he really meant it. Perhaps hoping to up the ante, his directorial debut, Killa Season, takes no prisoners, drenching Paid In Full’s humane-by-comparison body count in blood. In the straight-to-DVD opus, Cam’ron stars as Flea, a ball player-turned-hustler dealing with betrayal as he rises to the top of Harlem’s drug game. While the violence is enough to fill an entire album with murder raps, Killa Season more often comes off like comedy than street drama.

Since it marks Cam’s first effort, the filmmaking leaves much to be desired. Aside from charismatic performances by Cam, Hell Rell and Juelz Santana, the actors all sound like they’re reading their lines off of cue cards. The plot line is painfully predictable: a connect lures Flea into the game with ease; a duo of mediocre cops struggles to bring Cam down; and rival crews hope to steal his shine. Worst of all, scenes meant to assault the viewer with hardcore action sometimes come off as trite—a shootout at the end of the film is marred by awkward freeze frames, excessive blood spattering and unnatural dialogue.

But this is Dipset we’re talking about, so even this B-rate flick is guaranteed to entertain. Killa Season’s strength is its outlandishly funny scenes and flamboyant main character, like when Flea’s connect has him watch as two mules from Colombia defecate packs of dope onto the floor—“so you know this shit is pure.” Flea’s ruthlessness also elicits laughter; he rocks a machine gun named Thelma, smashes one man on the head with a bottle of Sizzurp for acting up during a dice game, and throws an informant in a car trunk with his brethren: a pack of rats.

At times, the film walks a thin line between fact and fiction. To illustrate Flea’s younger years, Cam uses actual video of himself and Ma$e playing basketball in high school, commenting, “He turned out to be a rapper, pastor, now I guess he gangsta.” Part Streets Is Watching and part SMACK, Killa Season is sure to please fans even if Cam gets his SAG membership revoked for releasing it.—FRANCESCA DJEREJIAN