Safety In Numbers (2005)

MARCH 11, 2012


For a half hour or so, I was kind of on board with Safety By Numbers’ approach to a slasher movie, in that it wasted no time explaining who the potential killer was and kicking off the action (we see someone watching them with a camera, their boat is stolen, etc). With the assumed killer being too obvious, one of the six must be the real killer, right? Figuring it out would be part of the fun, and the island setting would provide a “And Then There Were None” vibe, right?

Wrong. It’s the guy they say it is (a demented ex-cast member of the Survivor-esque reality show that they all starred in), so there’s no mystery at all. Sure, we later find out he had an accomplice, but it’s a character of no importance to us. Worse, her involvement is never made clear – she seemed to be responsible for hiding their boat for a while and nothing else. Plus her only real beef was with a character who was the first to die, so by the time she is revealed as a “villain”, it’s forgivable to forget how she was even connected in the first place.

Making matters more infuriating, nearly everyone dies off-screen, which is either a way to avoid doing anything that slasher fans might like to see, or even more dickish misdirection. I momentarily considered that they were going for some sort of April Fool’s Day-esque shenanigans, with everyone faking their death for some reason (my wife figured maybe it was all for yet another reality show – a concept that might even be interesting), but no. I’ll give them this much credit though – they are committed to this awful idea right to the very end; in an epilogue we discover (spoiler) that the Final Girl has been hacked to pieces on her boat, which absolutely no indication as to who could have been responsible. Sure, the killer lived (he “dies” like four times) but last we saw him he was retreating to the jungle on the island while she hightailed it away from said island on her yacht, so how the hell did he catch up to her, if it even WAS him? It’s the most frustrating nautical based ending since Open Water 2, with the silver lining being that at least the movie was over and I didn’t really care if she lived or died anyway.

And if it’s a joke that these “Survivors” are incredibly inept when it comes to roughing it or protecting themselves from danger (you know, because all reality shows are staged), then the joke was lost on me. The concept of the show is so underdeveloped (even as a blatant ripoff of another show) that it’s easy to forget how these folks even know each other in the first place. Also, what kind of a reality show only has seven contestants, and since when do all of them become good friends and hang out together after (we also have to believe that their love lives make the evening news). They’re also the same age and seemingly all from the same area, unlike a real Survivor which would assemble a cast of wildly diverse folks. Christ, they don’t even bother adding a black guy here. It’s insane that they actually had a built in excuse to solve one of slasher movie’s most common problems (vague, bland people you can’t tell apart) and opted to assemble the least varied cast in recent memory. They also could have (for once) provided a good reason for them to all suspect each other as being the killer, but no. Long before he ever shows up, they’ve all decided it’s the guy it actually is. Score one for solidarity, I guess.

It’s also ugly. In addition to being filmed and/or posted in a way that makes it look like a live broadcast (similar to an HDTV on 120hz for a filmed program), this is like the shittiest island paradise ever – most of it looks dreary and far from relaxing. Their cabin resembles what Jason’s in F13 Part 2 might look like if he cleaned the place up a bit, and the beach is about the size of a 7-11 parking lot. And don’t expect the killer to stick out at all; he’s got a camouflage jumpsuit and some black makeup on his face, so he just looks like a hardcore paintball player instead of a crazed murderer. And he’s not very effective either; most of the kills come courtesy of traps (which we don’t see, just the aftermath). The one guy he kills by hand (well, arrow), he botches, and then botches again later. Note to horror filmmakers – if your killer keeps screwing up or doesn’t actually do anything himself, then he’s not going to be scary to the audience. It’s the same problem I had with the Nightmare On Elm Street remake (well, one of the problems) – the kids kept falling asleep, encountering Freddy, and then getting away, making him less of a threat than the shitty makeup and diminutive actor had already handicapped from the start. Your villain has to be efficient!

Luckily, no one cares. The film’s IMDb board is pretty dead, the only other external review leads to a 404 error, and writer/director/producer David Douglas hasn’t been credited with another film since. I don’t know if he was actively trying to do something a little different and just botched the execution, or just simply had no idea what he was doing (the making of consists almost entirely of the actors talking about their uninteresting characters, there’s no help there), but apart from being the least interesting slasher movie of all time, he has accomplished nothing here; the movie isn’t even worth making fun of with friends. Just make fun of me for watching it, I guess.

What say you?

1 comment:

  1. OH GOD. I forgot I saw this. So dull. One of the bargain basement Netflix Instant horror titles that are worth no one's time (see The Maze ... or better yet, don't).


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