15 November 2014


Sometimes when a film takes too much of a beating online I get a little sympathetic and try to find some quality that is a bit redeeming in it. I think to enjoy most horror films, whether modern or not, you have to be a tad forgiving. If I could not stomach plot holes and over acting (or no acting) then I probably would not watch horror films all all for the most part. Now that being said I have to admit that 2009’s Amusement –directed John Simpson, who has only one other film to his credit, Freeze Frame, and that was released five years earlier in 2004, meaning this guy does not do too much- was not a great film story wise. As are many horror films to be frank. The story is full of illogic and gaps that require massive leaps of suspension of disbelief. I am serious about this. Just the opening sequence involving a “convoy” of cars and a truck, driven by a wasted Kevin Gage who has only a few minutes on screen at best, is simply absurd in the way it plays out. It almost is totally reliant on the bad guy, known in the credits as The Laugh, being clairvoyant or able to see into the future in order for things to play out then way they do. And his character is not psychic, and there is no way he could have predicted certain events that happen on the road trip in order to 1) realize his devious plot of revenge and 2) at the same time shift suspicion from the real killer to another character so that we are surprised a few minutes later. Rather than feeling shocked we are left feeling a bit confused and wondering if we missed something. In fact you are left feeling that way through the entire film, which went straight to DVD upon its release.

The story is about acts of elaborate revenge that The Laugh –named so because of his annoying rather than frightening laugh- wrecks upon three women, Shelby, Tabitha and Lisa. The reason for this, as far as we can tell from flashbacks, is because they all made little boxes with a hole in them that you peer into and see a setup little scene, like a diorama, and the girls did not like his because it had a tortured little mouse or squirrel in it. His asks them if it is funny and they let him know they do not think it is. He is later sent to a mental institution and upon release seeks out the girls for revenge for not liking his little scene. The revenge episodes are just too complicated and you again are left wondering how the guy can finance all of this. For example he has access to a massive factory space –like the killers in many of these torture- porn flicks do- and in that space he has designed complicated devices and moving walls of glass that simply defies reason. How could this guy get this space and design all of these gadgets and then finance getting them built? He just got out of a nut house for Pete’s sake. Another sequence involves him as a scary clown and yet another where he runs a creepy and decrepit hotel or guest house that nobody in their right mind would stay at. And yet there are enough regular guests to keep a room filled with beds of tortured and dead  guests fully occupied. Luckily the police or FBI have never decided to investigate the disappearance of all these local women who were last known to spend a night at the strange inn. The character of The Laugh is forgettable and we are treated to a fairly decent final girl confrontation between him and the last girl standing character, Tabitha.


I am listing the 2006 film Turistas (aka Paradise Lost) under my torture porn category if for no other reason than I like the term suddenly. The truth is other than one scene the film is not really of the gory, brutal nature of Hostel and its ilk. But there are all the other ingredients here that make the film fall into the same general category. American teenagers (and a few Aussies) travel to some remote region of the developing nation of Brazil. The backwoods of Georgia are not enough. By taking the kids out of the US and placing them somewhere remote and alien you have the potential of ratcheting up the stress level quite a few notches once things start to get out of control. Elements such as the inability to communicate in the local language, xenophobia on the part of the locals, loss of money and passports and the likelihood that the local authorities are totally incompetent, corrupt or part of the evil plot add to the paranoia and disorientation the vacationing teens will experience. Also adding to their disorientation will the fact that they tend to allow themselves to get wiped out on drugs and booze and lured into suspicious sexual situations without little forethought. Of course if teenagers thought ahead there probably would be many fewer horror sub-genres -torture porn for example- then there are these days. And what fun would that be?

To be fair Turistas is not a bad movie really, not as bad as reviewers make it out to be. Is it a great horror movie? No. But as far as horror films go it is not that bad either. Director –and sometimes actor- John Stockwell is not a horror film director and seems to be his first, and so far, only exploration into horror and exploitation. And ultimately “torture porn” is exploitation cinema, sort of reviving the ultra-violent and gratuitous films of the 70’s.  Most of his work is teenage comedy/romance type stuff with some action/adventure work as well. Some of his films –like Blue Crush, Into the Blue and Dark Tide- display his skill at working with beach shots and underwater scenes, which plays a big part in this film. He handles the chores well enough for someone not a horror film type and maybe he avoids many horror cliches that fill up so many genre films these days. But that is not to say there aren’t problems, especially in the second half where one of the underwater scenes just goes on too long, and too much action is spent in caves rather than in the lush Brazilian jungles where the film was shot. When there is violence it is brutal and there is plenty of boobage action as well that gives the film that exploitation feel. But like most all torture porn flicks the nudity is secondary to the violence, which is the real money shot in these things.

American brother and sister team Alex and Bea (Josh Druhamel and Olivia Wilde) are traveling by bus in Brazil with friend Amy (Beau Garrett).  After a bus accident they meet Aussie gal Pru (Melissa George) and a couple Brits. Not sure what to do until a new bus arrives they go down to a nearby beach bar and party spot where they meet a pair of Swedes and soon the swimming, drinking, dancing and mating rituals begin. Everyone decides they have stumbled onto a secret paradise and decide to hang out for a while. Of course it is a bad idea. They all wake up on the beach after being drugged to find themselves the victims of the friendly locals. All their money, bags, passports and even shoes have been stolen during the night. As well the bar girl has made a phone call to the film’s sinister villain Dr. Zamora (played a little over the top by Miguel Lunardi) to let him know some new gringos have arrived. He soon enlists the reluctant help of two drug addicted Indians from some local tribe. And soon enough the games begin. Lunardi collects organs for resale on the black market, and he especially prefers the organs of rich tourists who he sees as nothing but a plague on Brazil and its various resources. The previous day they had a beach buddy in the form of the broken English speaking Kiko, and he comes to the gang’s rescue after an altercation in a local village. What was the problem? Well, lets just say if you’re lost with no money or passports in an impoverished Brazilian village don’t go hitting the local boys in the head with rocks. The group –sans the Swedes who went off on their own earlier and have since wound up buzzard food- follow Kiko and head off into the hills and jungles around the village, and are led by him them to the “safe refuge” of his uncle’s place.


It does seem there are things worse for groups of horny, drunken American teenagers to deal with while on holiday than having their car break down somewhere in the Smoky Mountains, and one of those would be traveling and partying through Eastern Europe. The type of demented local folk running around the villages and forests of Belarus or Romania make the hicks in the backwoods of Georgia and Mississippi look like a bunch of happy Mormons. The vibe of 2008’s Train, directed by Gideon Raff, is just too reminiscent of 2006’s Hostel to not bring it up at the beginning of things here. It is obviously inspired by Eli Roth’s film and at times inspiration seems to blend into simply redoing the film in some ways. But it is not really a rip off film as far as I am concerned though fans of Hostel will see the similarities in the film's atmosphere, general story line and intense gore and violence. The film was shot in Bulgaria and is supposed to take place in the Ukraine, where an American wrestling team has traveled for some sort of tournament. Among the wrestlers is Alex, played by the usually capable Thora Birch. She does well enough here but I had some problems with her in this, though I loved her work in films like American Beauty and Ghost World. And my problems were not that she did badly at all, but that she seemed to not fit in to the mood of the film. I cannot explain it really, but had she not been in the movie it may not have been a movie I would I would have liked at all. So there you go. Lot of hostility towards the film online as far as reviews goes. Actually hard to find a few that were favorable. And while not a great film, and not one for the squeamish or people not on psychotropic medications, it is not really a bad horror film in terms of story, direction, photography, acting and special effects. People who hate the way CGI effect looks should be happy since the effects here seem to be all old school practical effects. And they are done very well and at times they were more than a bit unnerving. I seem to have gotten a hold of the unrated version of the film which includes quite a few scenes trimmed by Lionsgate to get an R rating for some limited degree of commercial distribution in the States. The gore and violence in this thing is simply over the top and I cannot recommend this one to everybody. And of course, that is probably going to make more people run out and check it out, which is my actual thinly veiled intention.

While the focus of Hostel (a film I did not much care for really and which, like Train, I will probably not watch twice) was a group of teenagers being tortured by high-paying thrill seekers, the bad guys in Train are essentially harvesting organs and body parts to sell on the insidiously evil black market, in East Europe. The team is in a rush to get to Odessa for their wrestling meet and take an offer from a skinny, gaunt faced woman also on her way to Odessa , to buy tickets through her on the train. A couple of goofy yokels help the team aboard and then take all their passports, to “keep them safe from thieves”. The passports end up in the incinerator in no time and the members being gathered up and tortured, murdered and cut into pieces by a gang of Eurotrash butchers. Leading them in the mayhem is brawny and ruthless Vlad. The teens realize something is up and seek help from the conductor, but it is a simple case of not being able to trust anybody and that everybody on the train is involved in some way or another, either actively or passively. And since they are on a train there is no escape though the film never seems to be able to capture the real claustrophobia this situation should have created. But even though they only have these long corridors to run up and down they do seem to manage to avoid detection and manage to lose one another quite a few times. Once one of the team is caught and winds up in the machine room, where Vlad does his work, it is all pretty grisly. Like I said, the effects are pretty darn good and really unsettling for the most part.

This is all just torture porn of course. Much of the gore and violence is gratuitous and deliberately over the top. Gore hounds should not be disappointed. I have seen plenty of gore films in my day and while not a fan of the genre I like to check it out here and there. I enjoy well done violence in films and have to say, again, that the effects in this one are pretty convincing. Much can be said about the cinematography as well and music score. Over all the film is very well made and acted. The problem of course is with the rather lowbrow story that, like Hostel, makes Eastern Europe look like some sordid hell hole of sleazy discothèques and neo-Nazi types with nothing better to do than stalk tourists. Hell, it might be true for all I know, but it just seems like the formula of lost/stranded/stalked city teens was transplanted from rural USA to the Ukraine. But to be honest, I sort of like that twist. And for whatever reason a lot of films are being produced and shot in East Europe anyway, though the location is sometimes supposed to be the US still. This was the case with Amusement (review coming shortly) and with the The Hills Run Red (see recent review). I am not sure why this is though I suspect saving money is somehow involved. So far have not found information online why studios prefer former communist bloc nations to the heartland of America, but it seems to be a trend. If anybody has insight to this please let me know.


My Brother the Vampire (aka Mein Bruder der Vampir or Getting My Brother Laid) is actually a 2001 comedy/drama and not really a horror film. Certainly a black comedy and while not the type of film  nobody dies in or there is any sort of supernatural element or monster or psycho stalker, the film is still eerie and creepy. Because, well, it is German. You know that can be pretty scary stuff. Nietzsche and Wagner and Kraftwerk. Dark and brooding. Depression is scary. And this little film is full of all sorts of Teutonic angst in the form of sexual frustration and the desperation a soon to be thirty year old mentally retarded guy named Josh experiences in his search for a  “corkscrew” (a cute little German term for a loveless one night stand). Josh is not only a bit slow in the noggin but he also believes himself to be a vampire, the “Prince of Darkness” he calls himself. I thought when I got this that he was going to be killing off people in a deluded state -ala Martin- and sucking their blood through a straw or something. Ah, nothing of the sort happens.

What does happen is even more shocking! I defecate thee not. His 15 year old sister Nicole is “on the verge of womanhood” (according to one of the few reviews of this film I could find online in English). Now what this means is she wants to get laid herself. You can’t be on the verge or manhood or womanhood I guess without getting yourself sodomized or something anymore. Nicole has taken an interest in a local small time crook who, with the help of his little gang, likes to hang people upside in the local playground and rob them of spare change while pantomiming weird cabaret songs. Not having too much trouble in the sex department is big brother Mike who is not retarded and is long past the verge of manhood. He is boffing new girlfriend Nadine in the attic bedroom while Josh and Nadine peep in on them. Mike soon takes it on as his brotherly duty to get his mentally handicapped brother laid, even if it means sharing his girlfriend or finding him a kinky cosplaying prostitute. And if none of this works, he will show Josh how to yank his bratwurst to some high quality Euro porn, complimenting him on his technique as the two guys go at it.

The local small time punk finds Nicole too kinky for his taste and Josh is more interested in Nadine than porn or prostitutes. And by the end of the film both Nicole and Josh finally wind up having sex… with each other!!! Yes, we are talking about incest between a 15 year old girl and her mentally retarded brother. See, I told you these Germans were some scary ass people. You can’t be responsible for two world wars and not have some twisted ass views on sex and relationships and how to manage the handicapped. The film is full of odd little scenes that you typically see only in European films and which you either will find artsy and elevated or you will respond, like my wife did, by exclaiming, “…what the hell is this movie about!” I was actually leaning somewhere towards the artsy, elevated side myself but I did not tell her that. I don’t know any of the actors or the director and doubt I will ever see them in anything again so I did not mention their names, and also because I have to keep looking back and forth between here and IMDB to spell those complicated German names. The film is well shot and edited. The acting is not too bad in a European type of way. Check it out but don’t expect to see anybody getting their jugular veins punctured. This one is a bit weird enough and obscure enough to wind up here. Oh and by the way, I actually love the Germans and all that Schopenhauer and Kafka stuff. Just kidding earlier. 


I am an older guy. I am in my 50's now and at this age one learns how precious some things are that he may have, or most likely certainly did, take for granted when he was 20 and still invincible or 30, or hell, even 40. But at 50 plus one’s mortality peers back at him in the mirror each morning. Gad, it’s a shocking and sobering feeling at times. So one also comes to value time as fleeting and special, and you really do look back on the past with regret that you did not do this and your did that instead. So when one has 92 minutes of his life stolen that he can never get back there arises not only a feeling of anger and frustration but of deep and dire despair as well. And that is the quandary I often find myself in watching horror movies anymore, and this film is an excellent example of what I once enjoyed about horror films and what they have become that makes me feel the watching of one only serves to bring me 90 or so minutes closer to my own squandered demise.

The 1981 film The Howling by Joe Dante was, and still is, one of my favorite horror films. I recall being about a mere 22 years old and sitting stoned and a little drunk in the back of an old Cadillac drag racing a Mustang down SW Zarzamora Street in San Antonio Texas (back when you had a better chance of riding down that street and not get shot or stabbed than you do these days) and the water pump blowing out in our car. It all got fixed and we still made it to the theater in time and had a great time. The original Howling was filled with clever dark humor and sometimes subtle and sometimes hammer over the head references to older werewolf films. Far from a perfect movie but pretty darn near a perfect horror film. But what happened next always confused me and it really says a lot about me as horror film buff. The film spawned a long series of sequels that, I assume, only got worse and worse as each one came out. I believe it made it up to The Howling 7 and each one had another tiles, like Freaks or The Marsupials, or something. I have never seen any of them. I rented on VHS The Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf and watched about 10 or 15 minutes of it and popped it out and never troubled myself with another of the franchisee. Until now.

I watched this the other night on some sort of streaming TV program here in China called PPTV. So I did not spend any money on it and at first thought I might get into it. I knew it was not going to be a great flick but I assumed it was some sort of modern reboot or remake of one of my favorite horror films ever and it could not be that bad. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. I forget that modern does not translate into better most of the time. In fact I almost feel I have written too much about this turkey. It is still stealing my life from me, but I feel I have to do this, to issue a warning to those who are considering seeing this. All I can do is fall on my knees and beseech you “Don’t! Don’t do it! For the love of God listen to me!” This is one of those films where during the final quarter or so of the film I am actually groaning out loud and moaning “oh come on!” to myself. This is as bad as a film can get for me and if I decide to continue to watching it it is only because long ago I surrendered to the existential nightmare life truly is and have given up all hope anyway. But perhaps you, dear reader, have not sank into the dark mire so deeply and I have given you fair warning. I will let you know in a paragraph or two what I was groaning in misery about more precisely, although there were more than a couple groan producing attributes to this sorry excuse for a werewolf film.

Daniel Radcliffe lookalike Will Kidman (Landon Liboiron) is going though all the Twilightesque teen angst all teens go through now in dealing with their vampire, warlock or werewolf issues. When I was growing up the big deal was whether or not a kid from a working class family would go on to college or go into the military. Simpler times. Now kids have to decide if they want to marry shiny vampires or how to carry on a relationship with the drug popping, ass-ogling slutty high school prima donna while facing that fact that along with his raging hormones he is also a raging lycanthrope. Add to that that he also has issues with the fact his mother died when he was born (or did she? Ooohhhh!) and his dad is still all whiny about it 18 years later (but he puts it behind him and finally takes off his SILVER! engagement ring and gives it to Will) and all he has accomplished so far in life is helping the school get 2nd place (and a SILVER! trophy with a pointy little top that has “I’ll be back in the picture later” written all over it) in the debate contest and soon we can understand poor Will’s pouty, brooding expression and dire, existential ramblings. Okay, no we can’t. We don’t want to. Who cares? We want him to end his pathetic life and maybe in doing so end the film as well, but no, he goes on and so does the movie.

For some reason he likes the less than charming Eliana Wynter (Lindsey Shaw). She is rude and arrogant, and dates the school jerk for some stupid reason she rationalizes later. Said school jerk of course does not like Will and picks on him big time. This is called a set-up for Will’s big get even scene later that seems like it was going to be a redoing of the same sort of scene in the first Spiderman film, except the get even scene in Spiderman was well shot and a bit funny, while the one here, well, was pretty lame and stupid. Lacking any humor or even enjoyable action. What we do learn is that in high schools the bullies can carry guns and pump off rounds in the stairwell, then get themselves killed by being tossed screaming down the stairwell and never have the police or school faculty get involved or ask questions. Not only that, but you can just leave the gun on the window sill and come back and get it later in the movie when you need it.


My screen captures from my review of The Beach Girls and the Monster.


I am a Bigfoot movie fan for the most part, and most things crypto-zoological. I just reviewed Man Beast and am getting ready to do the hacked up American version of Ishiro Honda’s Jūjin Yuki Otoko or The Abominable Snowman, but known here as Half-Human with John Carradine. Older Bigfoot movies are typically fun even when bad quality, but you run into a few that leave you more than speechless. Gasping for air might be more like it. And 1976’s Curse of Bigfoot is just such a film, and one that could only have come from the 70’s. Well, okay, not only from the 70’s, since the movies is actually an older film from somewhere between 1958 and 1963 depending on what sources you’re reading called Teenagers Battle the Thing. And I had actually sat through that marvel once and did not know that they had prepackaged the movie as this one, and if I had I may well have passed on downloading this one during the last Cinemageddon Halloween free leech period. The made for late night TV film contains all of the original Teenagers Battle the Thing film in a colorized version, but with an extra 30 minutes or so of story added later, and meant to set up a sort of flash narrative retelling of the first film. I guess this was to capitalize on the whole Bigfoot movie wave that was going on in the 70’s. Some of the added scenes are about the best part of the film in a scholcky type fashion, with lame high school lectures and the rantings of a pretty bent of shape Bigfoot expert who happens to have been on the original expedition that discovered the original Bigfoot, or Thing. I have reviewed some pretty films here, like The Creeping Terror and Manos: The Hand of Fate, but they come off as fairly watchable stuff after sitting through Curse of Bigfoot. And it is films like this that show Ed Wood Jr. was far from actually being the ‘worst film director of all time” as he is often unfairly labeled. His films are fun and watchable for the most part. Some reviewers online throw around the “its so bad its good” cliché a little too much regarding Curse of Bigfoot. It is actually so bad it stays bad without a chance in hell of ever being good in any sense of the word.

The story (of both films, since both films are the same story) is fairly simple. A group of teens tag along with a couple teachers to dig up stuff in the desert. Seems like on about the first half of the first day they start finding rare little artifacts and after a short hike discover an ancient mummy. I would assume this is a “Bigfoot” mummy or why call the film Curse of Bigfoot. We never learn anything about the mummy really. We never learn anything about anything actually, and the film drags on at a tedious and painful pace. Not that sort of artsy fartsy tedious but pretensiously, almost enjoyable, pace European films have, but at that unique tedious pace only bad American films can achieve. The film looks like it is shot on 8mm film and there is not once ounce of talent in front of or behind the camera.

In the beginning sequence the guest speaker (who I think is one of the actual characters and same actor in the first film but do not care enough to “research” on to support my theory) rants about how members of the expedition wound in mental hospitals mumblings to themselves for the rest of their lives. But why? They went insane because nothing ever happened maybe. At the end of the film they stand around half asleep watching the crappy ass monster piñata burn to death. Perhaps he means the original actors went insane for being a part of this odd project and they are receiving their just karmuic desserts. Watch at your own peril. 


14 November 2014


The 2008 horror film Splinter was directed by Toby Wilkins, whose history in film has been more in the special effects department than behind the lens as director. Sadly his only other film worthy of mention is The Grudge 3 (which I have not seen), the rest of his film work being TV work and shorts. Too bad since Splinter is a stripped down horror film – a cast of six and filmed mostly within one location at a convenience store- whose success rests on some solid direction and acting, along with decent dialog and a believable and scary monster. When the film first came out I read a few bad reviews of it and put off seeing it until only recently. You cannot believe everything you read and some people are obviously just impossible to please. While there is a lot of crap coming out of the horror film industry these days there are good and watchable horror films as well and Splinter is one of them. While far from perfect or flawless it nonetheless move along and delivers the horror goods from start to finish.

With no more than six people in being listed in the film’s credits this is not going to be a teenage body count film, and that genre is still alive and well though it has been trussed up a bit and made less funny the films of the 70’s and 80’s. Everybody in the film seems to be 25 and up and plagued with “real life” problems other than what college will one go to now that high school is wrapping up. City slickers Polly and Seth (Jill Wagner and Paulo Costanzo) are having problems sitting up tents in the wilderness to celebrate their anniversary. Jill is obviously the hard one to please in the relationship and Paulo is trying his best, but he is more comfortable with test tubes than tents and mosquitoes. Jill hammers on him but she herself can’t get the tent up any better and after it is ripped they opt to stay in a hotel for the night. She does the driving –natch- since Pauolo cannot drive a stick. Hey, neither can I. While heading to who knows where they pick up and then are kidnapped by con on the lam Dennis Ferrell (Shea Whigham) and his super tweaker girl friend Lacey (Rachel Kerbs). The stereotypes are not over done and the ride in the SUV is filled with believable dialog and situations for the most part. Things turn for the worse when they run over a spiky creature who we met earlier when it killed a potato chip munching hillbilly. A tire is blown and we find out how whacked Rachel is when she is sure is some old dead pet of her come back. The spikes on this creature –which never find out anything about, long with the parasite that has infected it- not only blows their tire but damages their radiator as well. After it blows they all wind up back at the bas station/convenience store where the redneck was killed at the film’s start. And he is still there, but now he too has become a spiky, thorny creature that jerks and scrambles around in unnerving manner, and is very fast and very intent on killing the three people –yea, tweaker Lacey doesn’t make it- holed up inside the store now.

The film now becomes the three of them against the unrelenting monster outside and against each other. I guess if you want to push it it also becomes them against themselves as well, but I try not to take too many of these movies to that level. We’re not watching Lord Jim here no matter how good it gets. Here is where many a modern horror film may fall all apart, if they haven’t long since crumbled, but Splinter manages to hold on. The characters and situations never get corny or unbelievable. The creature, while locked outside, still poses a threat and is able to get inside –i.e. in the form of a torn off hand- and prevents the trio from leaving. When help arrives it is quickly dispensed with and their limited options for getting out seem like just one bad idea followed by another. Science geek boy Paulo may not be able to pitch a tent or drive a stick but he suddenly comes into his own when trying to figure out what the creature is and how to combat it, all the while being nagged by Polly of course who can’t find it in herself to tell the guy even once “yea honey, go on, we’re listening”. But in the end it is brains over beauty as Paulo figures out the creature is sensitive to cold and comes up with a pretty interesting and tension building method to go out and move a vehicle closer to the door. The film is has other moments like this where the trio try to get some chance at rescue but are thwarted by the creature in one for or another.

13 November 2014


On one level 2009’s The Hills Run red is not really too bad a bad masked killer movie. The killer is creepy enough and the violence is anything but subdued. The acting is okay and even features William Sadler as the evil film director Wilson Wyler Concannon, whose infamous slasher film The Hills Run Red, has become a thing of myth and the object of a quest by a group of teens. The killer, Babyface, is genuinely freaky and one of the better such evil entities I have seen in a while. But on on another level the film is irritating. In particular I had some issues with the editing style. Often a simple scene of two characters talking is punctuated by sudden loud audio effects and choppy, jumpy scenes of Babyface killing somebody or up to no good in some manner. It is really overdone and this style of editing is more suited to a heavy metal music video I think rather than being injected constantly into a full length film. Some scenes edited like this are appropriate, but it simply over done and there is no reason people cannot watch two or three characters interacting without having to be jolted by brutal audio/video effects. Another issue is that in some scenes the violence becomes a bit too much. I mean I am not against violence but again we get into the whole “torture porn” deal where we have to watch someone slowly and brutally tortured. While this can make you winch and squirm it is not really scary. Not atmospheric or clever in any sense. And we do not expect Fellini here or course, but the film falls back over and over on these editing gimmicks and utterly over the top violence to keep the pace rather than exploring the story more effectively. But then again, it is a standard formula with big city teens going into the remote country side sticking their noses into the business of the local hillbillies and looking for things they should not be and getting more than they bargained for in the end. Some of the issues with this predictable formula are voiced, in an attempt to add some humor to the dark story, by teen character Lalo. But the high-strung teen character voicing his concerns over the group falling prey to slasher film clichés has been done over and over and has itself now become a slasher film cliché.

An interesting point here, and one I began to notice when I reviewed the film Amusement a few posts back**, is the use of foreign locales for rural US. The film is shot in Bulgaria and probably used local film crews for some of the work, including set designs and maybe some of the editing and cinematography. Not really sure. The film does not look bad really and there is some talent going on in front of and behind the camera, but ultimately the film is too bleak and violent, lacking any humor or witty satire, to enjoy.

(**What post on Amusement you ask? This type of thing is essentially "orphaned" text from when this post originally appeared at my now defunct Necrotic Cinema blog. I usually correct it but in this case I decided to leave it in case similar lapses in my editing appear in the future.)