By the time the new millennium hit, reality TV was already knocking scripted TV off the air, so it’s no surprise that the slasher genre cozied up to the cultural phenomenon, with killers terrorizing house contestants in films like Kolobos and My Little Eye. The trend also infected popular franchises (Halloween: Resurrection, Wrong Turn 2) and has continued with films like The Task, Halloween Hell, the Playing With Dolls franchise, and these two.
CRUEL WORLD (2005)
Cruel World follows all the rules of reality shows and slashers circa 2005, making for an entertaining throwback experience loaded with familiar horror faces and mean-spirited kills.
Mom’s Jaime Pressly (Pinata: Survival Island, A Haunted House 2) picked her cute husband Sam Page (Prison of the Dead, The Brotherhood) over Edward Furlong on a reality show (good thing, or America would have fucking revolted).
Anyway, Furlong makes them both pay in the opening scene, then uses their house to film his own reality show…
Among the contestants are plenty of horror alum: the one Jessica Biel let get away on 7th Heaven, Andrew Keegan (Teenage Caveman); Laura Ramsey (The Ruins, The Covenant, Venom); Aimee Garcia (Dead Tone, Dexter, Lucifer); and Brian Geraghty (Open House, An American Crime, When A Stranger Calls, ATM). All the usual reality stereotypes are present as well and purposely play it up for the camera, including the gay guy, who has fun checking out his hienie and spanking it.
Furlong acts as the Julie Chen of the show, instructing the cast over a loudspeaker on the competitions in which they’ll take part.
After the first terrifying one that has them all gasping for air inside coffins, you would think they would determine something is very wrong here, but as soon as they’re free and one girl has claimed victory, they all forget they nearly died.
And wouldn’t you know when winning another competition is as simple as pushing any chained contestant into a pool to find a key that will unlock the chains so they won’t drown, everyone refuses…except the gay guy, who gleefully shoves the black guy right in!
That racism problem in the gay community is no myth. But this gay bigot gets a taste of his own medicine later when Furlong mocks his particular version of gay speak.
Cruel World starts sort of like a slasher, with Furlong’s mentally challenged brother, played by Mean Girl’s resident gay boy Daniel Franzese (I Spit On Your Grave, Killer Pad, Kill Theory) chasing contestants around and killing them rather generically.
But eventually the psycho brothers start pitting contestants against each other in various competitions.
SHORT ARM OF THE LAW.
It’s cruel and vicious fun, Furlong is as annoying as ever, and Franzese really deserves better than this…but I’m glad he got what he didn’t deserve because he makes this one all that much more entertaining.
REALITY TERROR NIGHT (2013)
I’ll make my “should have been 20 minutes shorter” statement right up front with this one. There is an hour of mostly nothing happening (especially if you’re gay) before Reality Terror Night suddenly, finally turns into a fast-paced, serviceable hack ‘n’ slash filled with dark and shadowy rooms and halls, screaming girls, and lots of blood.
Veteran horror hunk Martin Kove had me hyped for some schlock in the opener as a mad doctor about to cut into some bodacious boobs.
Okay, into some more bodacious boobs. What better place than his for some crazy bitch to film a reality show in which chicks with big boobs run around looking for ghosts?
As far as all the female contestants entering the house know, the competition involves being the first one to make contact with a ghost. Unfortunately, for the first hour, the only one who seems to do so is the crazy bitch running the show. She’s got a hotline to the spirit of the psycho doctor, and he gives her the urge to bust open some nice big coconuts.
There’s a suave/sleazy European photographer on hand, so we get a hip hop pole dance montage and photo shoot montage to kill time before the kill time.
And at least he takes his shirt off while shooting the girls…and they keep theirs on.
He also takes his pants off when trying to get it on with one of them.
There’s also a lot of time spent in the control room with the man and woman overseeing the filming, and the guy is a cutie. The photographer seems to think so, too.
One perfectly snarky girl contestant makes me wish she had a lot more lines, because with this many girls running around in bikinis for 90 minutes, it should be a nonstop bitchfest.
The ghost competition doesn’t even start until an hour in! After 15-minutes of green video footage that has less haunting action than an episode of Ghost Hunters, the killing finally kicks into gear when the photographer is just getting it in at last.
But check your streaming bar and you’ll see there’s only 15 minutes left! WTF? At least the film makes those 15 minutes good.
I guess Martin Kove is still too pricey to hire for an entire film, considering he doesn’t make it to the end as the evil ghost doctor.
Instead, the crazy bitch running the show makes some goofy attempts at speaking in a possessed voice as she teleports around the house, slicing and dicing the fuck out of bikini-clad girls.
At this point, don’t even ask me to comment on the storyline. Just be glad bitches are dying for 15 minutes.