Ginger Nuts of Horror
Another week and and another Hollywood attempt at making a scary horror, and another ninety minutes of my life wasted. Which is a pity as in the hands of a more competent director this film could have been a roaring success.
A great concept let down by so many major missteps.....
Four teenagers / young twenty somethings are heading of to Coachella music festival, not sure why, is this something that young Americans all do? On the way to festival, for some reason, again it is never fully explained, they decide to stop off at some places that are reputed to have been the locations of some really nasty black magic / satanic occurrences.
After a run in with an occult shopkeeper ( a guy who is slightly less scary than the Shop Keeper from Mr Benn) they decide to follow him and end up witnessing a ritual where they plan sacrifice a girl. ~shock and surprise the occultist discover that they are being watched, give chase and lose them. But OH NO, one of the four has dropped their phone. Luckily for them the sacrificial girl has found it and contacts them. And is is want in these films it turns out that she is crazier than everyone else. And when she does something really crazy all hell literally breaks loose.
Credit must be given here for the filmmakers not resorting to that old cliche of having protagonists who are drawn to the darkside looking like rejects from a Black Sabbath concert. It was rather refreshing to have a set of protagonists that looked like your typical preppy American youth. However this is all for nothing when every single one the main cast are a bunch of cliched vacuous, annoying, whiney, one dimensional walking cipher.
I get that you don't have to like a character to get behind their story, but every single one of them is just fodder for the spooky going ons. There is zero engagement or development of any of the characters. Badly written, badly acted, and more screams than a truck full of ice screams you end up just wanting each and every one of them dead really quick.
And that's where the film really fails. Horror films have two ways to scare the viewer, the subtle use of tone an implied horror, a sense of dread from waiting for something to happen, or go for the cheap shock tactic with lots of blood and clever kill scenes. This film has neither, hell some of them get killed off screen. You are even robbed of the voyeuristic satisfaction of seeing them get their comeuppance.
The film limps along to a finale that is head and shoulders above the rest of film, but still lacks any sense of dread or fear. Credit must be given to final scene, it's chilling, and a brave move for such a vanilla horror film, if only those concerned had made the rest of the film in this way.