But did they pay off? Here are my brief thoughts on Demons Never Die, Detention Night, Serial Kaller, Him, Red Eye, and The Last Heist.
DEMONS NEVER DIE (2011)
So, I watched this one after seeing The Killing Gene, specifically because it’s the only other horror movie in which sexy Ashley Waters appears.
The promise of a masked killer was all the more reason to watch.
On the bright side, it has a very early 2000s, trendy/pretty people/sleek production/cool music soundtrack vibe with some brutal kills.
The down side is everything else. Sparked by the suicide of a classmate, a bunch of college kids makes a pact to do the same. The problem is, as the movie wades through convoluted tangents and character development, it feels like these kids barely even know each other…or care to get to.
They all have “personal demons” that give them reason to want to commit suicide (which explains why there’s a whole lot of looking in mirrors in the film).
For instance, one girl feels the pressure to be a beautiful model, and another kid faces rejection for being gay.
And yet, instead of banning together to help one another, they are all miserable to each other!
Kind of a bummer, because using this subject as a springboard for the main characters to conquer their fear of life and come together to fight a killer is a damn good concept.
On top of that, it is incomprehensible how much of this movie’s time is filled with music montages. It’s like a nonstop party leading up to the party they all end up at in the final act, which is where the masked killer does most of the dirty work.
Sadly, Ashley Waters is barely in the film, despite playing a pivotal role that felt forced at the end (and sadly, that forcing doesn’t involve the purple dildo).
DETENTION NIGHT (2011)
Going into this slasher, I didn’t know it was from Ryan Nicholson, director of nasty flix Gutterballs and Hanger. And I never would have guessed, because it is a surprisingly basic indie high school slasher.
Odd enough and with fairly cartoonish characters, it’s about a bunch of kids who are holding the first “Famine Night” in five years. Last time they had it, the most popular teacher in school suffered a horrible accident that left his face a deformed mess.
Now someone has slipped on the school mascot costume and is killing everyone in super bloody ways.
Most of the kids spend the whole movie being really annoying, but there’s killer mascot mask POV, the kill scenes are bloody awesome, there are plenty of body reveals, and the film does get unexpectedly funnier in the final act.
Especially considering the first act includes Asian geek masturbation shtick, which is ridiculously unfunny and dated at this point.
Not to mention, the killer reveal is a pretty good modern take on a classic slasher twist.
SERIAL KALLER (2016)
You know it’s going to be good old low budget slasher trash when it begins with a snooty mom bashing men while looking in the mirror and loathing her own body as her young son tries on her lipstick in another room…
The rest of the film revolves around a group of girls that works on an Internet video sex line. Way too much of the film is just loads of girl talk, mostly at the studio where they work.
There’s a cheesy dance club scene, and horror queen Debbie Rochon stops in early on trying to get a job.
The killer is simply hooded and all the early kills are pretty generic.
The good scary music isn’t enough to make them better, and the sudden unrelated cuts to grind house style close-ups of flesh being sliced during every single kill are a distraction.
However, the kills finally start totally kicking ass when they are done in pairs…because the killer targets couples having sex!
Ah, good old fashioned slasher style death. Still, the most brutal death of all is a single guy and it involves a fire extinguisher.
Once the killer is revealed, there’s a long, crazed monologue explaining motivation. While it delivers a very specific social message, the overall narrative of the film doesn’t come together—the whole simply isn’t the sum of its parts.
This is basically a killer clown slasher that goes a real roundabout way before finally getting there.
First we meet an old dude who has a warehouse business. One day, all his workers start fleeing the place saying it’s evil. If you ask me, it looks like a good Christian called Trump’s border patrol on them…
Next, a chick finds a Ouija board in the sand on a beach (where else would you find it?) and uses it with her friend.
A year later, a group of friends enters the warehouse to do a paranormal hunt.
Holy schizo plot. It turns into a long drawn out paranormal exploration movie, a doll is tossed into the mix, people go missing or dying whenever they are with one particular guy, everyone suspects he’s doing it, and yet they keep splitting up…and sending one person off alone with him!
The killer clown shows up at the 54-minute mark. He’s the best part of the film and makes some eerie appearances, but I don’t know what his relevance is (to anything).
There’s also a little girl in a white dress, and finally someone is smart enough to recommend they don’t fall the whole little crying jag shtick.
Plus, a cop shows up who doesn’t show any signs of following the kind of protocol a cop would if he discovered a bunch of trespassers in an abandoned building in the middle of the night.
What I’m saying is, there are a lot of other clown slashers out there.
RED EYE (2016)
Aside from the fact that it’s not a found footage film, Red Eye is structured just like one. Four friends head to a remote town to make a documentary about a legend of a backwoods killer…and a majority of the film is dialogue.
But more than interviews (there’s just one), the talk is between the characters, from interpersonal drama to “we are outsiders because we are horror fans” convo.
The good news is, the killer shows up pretty early. It’s your usual hillbilly with a sack over his head type, but the kill scenes are pretty good visually, not to mention damn gory at points.
The problem for me is…the music. Hey, it’s my issue, and I bring it up all the time, and maybe it’s what the filmmakers are going for, but for me, a progressive rock/metal score simply zaps a horror movie of scares. Sure, it sets a raucous tone, but it’s simply not frightening. Which is a shame, because there are moments here that could have kicked ass if they were scored differently.
Considering there are only 4 kids, this isn’t a body count film. It has a twist you don’t usually see in backwoods horror flicks, which makes it stand out from the heap…and also sends it into torture porn territory for a while.
I can’t deny that the metal score kind of fits at this point. And it makes even more sense when you consider that of all films, they worked a Headless T-shirt into the movie. Awesome. Or, rather…gruesome.
THE LAST HEIST (2016)
Mike Mendez, a director known for comedy horror like The Convent, Big Ass Spider!, Lavalantula, Don’t Kill It, and The Gravedancer, loads this action/horror hybrid with indie horror actors, saving most of the best darkly comic lines for Henry Rollins, who plays the psycho killer!
The day that a bank is closing its doors, Rollins goes to empty his safety deposit box, which is filled with…his precious collection of souvenirs from his victims!
Meanwhile, a gang of thieves invades the premises, takes hostages, and has a standoff with police. Little do they know that Rollins is quietly in the shadows, gruesomely killing anyone who crosses his path.
The cast includes some of my horror faves, like horror queen Kristina Klebe and horror hunks Nick Príncipe, Ace Marrero, and Michael Aaron Milligan.
However, although there’s plenty of blood and gore and Rollins strikes, for a majority of the film, the focus isn’t on him and the horror, but on the twists and turns between the cops and robbers.
It’s not until that fight comes to a head that Rollins becomes a real obstacle for everyone involved and gets his chance to steal the show.