(director: Alessio Liquori; screenwriter: Danielle Cosci; cinematographer: Luca Santagostino ; editor: Jacopo Reale; music: Benjamin Kwasi Burrell; cast: Zak Sutcliffe (Reggie), Molly Dew (Queenie), Sophie Jane Oliver (Bess), Jack Kane (Nolan), Zanda Emlano (Karl), Terence Anderson (Joseph), David Keyes (Pedro Minghella), Mino Caprio (Sarpi), Teo Achille Csprio (Giulio Sarpi Jr.), Emma Giua (Isabelle), Matteo de Gregori (Night Wanderer), Andrei Claude (Chris); Runtime: 80; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Simona Ferri, Roberto Cipullo, Gabria Cipullo, Simon Pilarsky, Konstantin Korenchuk; Gravitas Ventures; 2020)
“A poorly made monster fantasy film.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A poorly made monster fantasy film. The Italian production was filmed in English. It’s directed by Alessio Liquori (“In The Trap”) and written by Danielle Cosci.
Five British teens, during a once in a lifetime lunar eclipse, go on a country outing from their international school near Rome, “S. Peter School,” on a restored 1970s fire-engine red Italian school bus driven by the elderly Black British character actor Joseph (Terence Anderson). Where they’re heading to is not noted.
On their way in the forest a tree falls in the middle of the one-lane country road that blocks their path, forcing them on a new road.
On the shortcut road the bus is hijacked by an escaped serial killer, called in the newspapers “The Tongue Eater” (David Keyes), who pulls a gun on them, forcing them to go deeper in the forest and into a military zone. They are confronted there, after stalling out in a tunnel, by a carnivorous beast known as the Night Wanderer (Matteo de Gregori), who eliminates the psycho and the driver, leaving the kids alone to fend off the monster. This forces them to find safety in the labyrinthine underground tunnels. They then split-up looking for a way out to safety.
The teen leader Nolan (Jack Kane) is shy and has a crush on the pretty artistic Bess (Sophie Jane Oliver), and they pair off together. The others include the rugged bad boy Reggie (Zak Sutcliffe), the smart-bespectacled Queenie (Molly Dew) and the obese class clown Karl (Zanda Emlano). The teens are all likeable, and easily play into the plot’s silliness, comedy and violence.
There are flashbacks of the local Sarpi, who Nolan and Bess discover his story in one tunnel of him as a child (Teo Achille Csprio) wandering into the woods with his young sister (Emma Giua). She was abducted by the monster. Now it’s revealed Sarpi (Mino Caprio) returns as a middle-age man to kill the monster, but it’s unclear what happens to him.
In the end, there’s not enough of a story to keep us watching, even if we might root for the kids to make it out of there alive.
REVIEWED ON 10/18/2020 GRADE: C