MARCH 23, 2015
My memory sucks, so I can't remember how much I've talked about Dead Right Horror Trivia here on HMAD. Summing up: once a month there's a horror trivia game here in LA, and unlike most trivia games prizes are awarded to the teams every round, rather than just the top 3 teams or something at the end of the night. Said prizes are mostly DVDs and Blu-rays, with other stuff thrown in for good measure (I once netted a pellet gun!). My team wins pretty often (and no, not because I'm on it - they've won without me), so I often come home with a new stack of DVDs, most of which I just took because no one else really wanted them or they seemed like they'd be good HMAD fodder. But that pile is building up, so (don't hold me to this!) I'm going to try to watch at least one a week and review it, good or bad. Unfortunately, I'm kicking this off with Desecrated, a movie that will be traded in with alarming quickness. I might even make a special trip just to get this waste of time out of my house.
I've seen worse slasher/survival horror movies, sure, but rarely have I seen one of this type where absolutely nothing about it works. The cover promises a gas masked killer, but the guy in the movie kills everyone sans a mask or disguise of any sort (the cover also 2nd bills Michael Ironside, but you know and I know that he's only in it for like 5 minutes, because that's how these things work). Indeed, you know who the bad guy is pretty early on, but then the movie spends about 10-15 minutes as if they hadn't already revealed who the killer is to the audience, as we see him in friendly mode, helping our idiot group of college kids with their electricity issues. In the hands of a capable director, or editor, or screenwriter, this could be unnerving fun, seeing our bad guy put on a happy face and act like he's on the heroes' side, but as it plays out, it just feels like we aren't supposed to know he's the bad guy yet.
The kills are also totally botched; our guy is an ex-military survivalist type, with landmines everywhere and what not, but almost all of the kills are the result of him pulling out a gun and shooting someone. Even actual action movies get more creative with the killings than this alleged slasher, as if the director was unaware that even the shittiest movie in the sub-genre will at least give a few kills that are at least CONCEPTUALLY interesting, even if the execution is bungled. But no, he can't even manage that much, and the movie's terrible pacing (most of the kids are killed in the final 15 minutes) means you wait around for zero payoff. There are no chase scenes of note either; the climax is nothing more than the three surviving characters holed up in a room, with the villain holding Haylie Duff (the "Final Girl", for lack of a better term) at gunpoint while her dad (Ironside) spells out more of the film's gibberish, wholly uninteresting backstory.
What else? Well the kids are all obnoxious, but like Ironside's limited role I expected that much going in. It's too much to ask of our modern slasher films to routinely give us anyone even remotely endearing (even Duff is grating), so it's only really a surprise and worth noting when a new slasher DOES give us at least two characters worth caring about. I've said this before, but it bears repeating - just because we're here to see a bunch of kids get offed, doesn't mean we should actively root for their deaths. The killer jumping out and stabbing someone isn't scary on its own; it's the fact that someone we like is in danger that really elevates the scare. You can (mostly) get away with a cast full of jerks when it's Jason Voorhees and the movie is the 12th in a series, but not in these things where this is our only chance to give a shit about ANYTHING that is presented on screen. Slasher filmmakers, consider this an assignment: aim to make your viewers angry enough to hate you when you kill off someone they love (and no, not a dog - think Randy in Scream 2, or Sarah Michelle Gellar in I Know What You Did Last Summer). If your mindset is "Let's make them such jerks you'll WANT to see them die!", just please quit making your movie right then and there - we have enough of those. Hell, *I* specifically have enough of those, as I'm sure I could write this exact same review for 5-6 of the other movies I've won over the past two years.
The guy playing the killer is at least trying to be memorable; when he's berating the kids it's easy to appreciate his presence (his "north and west" explanation to the most grating of the bunch is probably the only good moment in the entire movie), and I guess you can say the movie has a happy ending since he gets away without even a scratch - as the only halfway engaging presence in the film, I guess he deserves to live. Otherwise, the best thing I can say about the movie is that it's thankfully only 82 minutes instead of the 104 (!) promised on its IMDb page. The film was shot in 2011 and only surfaced on DVD earlier this year, and while that's not uncommon for independent productions (especially ones that neglected to rip off Paranormal Activity, at least for the past couple years - we've finally moved on for the most part), it wouldn't be a surprise to learn that the film was re-edited in an attempt to save it. The convoluted backstory (involving blackmail, insurance settlements, an unsolved disappearance, etc) probably got cut to the bone, as did the introductions (they arrive at the cabin a lot earlier than most movies of this type). I can't imagine any action was excised, but it wouldn't matter anyway - if anything could have saved this movie, adding more non-action would not be the way to do it.
So, yeah, a lousy start to this new goal. I can't guarantee I'll get one out to you every week, but I am determined to do so, mostly because I have too many damn movies laying around and would like to have that space back. My mild hoarder-ism has been costly (just this week I discovered that I had somehow lost parts to a model kit I started assembling a long time ago - I can't help but think if I had fewer boxes of random "STUFF" in my office, living room, and garage, they never would have been lost, as there only would be 1-2 places I could have tossed them aside), and my son is going to be walking real soon, so having stacks of movies here and there isn't safe. And it'd be even more upsetting if he got hurt because a stack of movies as bad as this fell on him.
What say you?