I’m continuing to conquer my watchlist on Tubi, and it was a mixture of subgenres with this weekend triple feature.
DON’T CLICK (2020)
The whole moral message of Saw totally pinpoints one naughty behavior in this film—watching porn.
Some dude jerks off to an online pay-per-view video channel of bound women being tortured by a masked man.
When his roommate comes home, he finds the computer on the fritz, gets sucked into a cyber lair where his friend is tied up, and is then telepathically controlled by a deformed dude in a suit and tie who speaks like a woman.
What follows is bouncing around between the main guy being forced to slowly mutilate his tied up friend, scenes of how they became hooked on the online porn thing, and clips of the sexual torture videos. This movie is literally torture porn. It’s very much like a Saw film, right down to the confusing timeline. But if it was trying to guilt me into never watching porn again, it totally failed.
The situations the guys go through and the baddies that administer the torture were just such low energy that the horror simply didn’t come through. Not to mention…Don’t Click is clearly a warning to misogynistic hetero male behavior.
DEATH RINK (2019)
I was so drawn into Death Rink, which is only 75 minutes long, because the vibes it gives off immediately reminded me of the 1989 classic Intruder, only instead of a grocery store, this film takes place in a roller rink after hours.
We meet the staff as they clean up for the night, smoke pot, play around on the rink and in the arcade, and talk about a kid who died in the rink years before. Uh-oh.
The confusing thing is that the death is referenced as having taken place in the eighties, but the film itself feels like it is taking place in the eighties. There are no signs of modern conveniences, and the staff keeps getting prank calls on a landline.
The problem here is that once we get to know the cast, we just keep getting to know them. Seriously, the first kill doesn’t come until 45 minutes in. The film is entertaining enough when the basic death scenes kick in, the killer wears a mask and a hoodie, and the atmosphere is eighties awesome, but overall the horror elements don’t pack a punch, and the denouement goes for confusing twist upon twist reveals in late 90s slasher revival style.
I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE: DEJA VU (2019)
Normally I wouldn’t cover an installment of this franchise because they’re just not my thing, but I wanted to touch upon this one for several reasons. First of all, it’s a direct sequel to the original cult flick by the original director, and brings back the original actress, Camille Keaton. Second, it also stars two of my favorite horror queens—Maria Olsen as a backwoods matriarch, and Jamie Bernadette as the original heroine’s daughter.
While I don’t like rape/revenge flicks, I actually think this is a worthy continuation/sequel story. I also think director Meir Zarchi played it smart in a) not trying to recapture the exact feel of the original film, instead making this a very contemporary horror film, and b) not trying to top the violence and brutality of all the sequels that have been made in recent years.
The biggest issue I have with the movie is that I can’t comprehend what Meir was thinking in making it two hours and 30 minutes long. The fluidity of this decent plot could have had more of an impact if the runtime had been slimmed down to even an hour and forty-five minutes (which would still be too long for me). It is tough sitting through this for 150 minutes, not because of disturbing content, but because it drags.
Even so, the plot really worked for me. The original heroine has made a career as an author by writing the story of her experience. While Camille Keaton appears in the first portion of the film, this is really about her daughter, and I’d say it’s the best performance I’ve seen yet by scream queen Jamie Bernadette.
Turns out the rapists from the original film had family, and Jamie ends up in their neck of the woods. Uh-oh. It takes quite a while to get to the fucked up rape scenes, and while they are not as horrific as some of the scenes in the more recent sequels, Jamie’s performance definitely makes you feel them. The fact that I watched this the day after Roe was overturned made the sequences weigh even heavier on me—my mind kept thinking that there are women who will now have to go through what this woman is going through in this movie and then be forced to carry the result of the vicious, relentless attack.
On the flip side, there’s an aspect of this sequel you might guess right from the start that is an understated message from a whole different side of the Roe vs. Wade debate.
I even like that the film has several stages that keep Jamie’s fight going (I just wish the journey was shorter), and best of all, for the first time ever, the title finally gets literal props in the movie…more than once!