(director: Alastair Orr; screenwriter: David D. Jones; cinematographer: Brendan Barnes; editor: Alastair Orr; music: Jason van Wyk, Andries Smit; cast: Liesl Ahlers (Erin), Reine Swart (Rian), Sean Cameron Michael (Peterson), Cameron Scott (PJ), Steven Ward (Ezra), Paige Bonnin (Amber), Kayla Privett (Cici), Suraya Rose Santos (Shea), Michael Lawrence Potter (Bobby), Russell Crouse (Kato), Craig Urbani (Miller); Runtime: 94; MPAA Rating: NR; producers:Chwayita Dlulane, Ariye Mahdeb:Samuel Goldwyn Films; 2020-South Africa)
“Never made me care about how it was resolved.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Alastair Orr (“House on Willow Street”/”Indigenous”) directs this energetic but misguided horror film, a film influenced mostly by the film “Saw.” It’s lazily written by David D. Jones. He rewrites the familiar horror tropes and uses the “kill off” formula. It’s filmed in South Africa but set in the Pacific Northwest.
On an impromptu week-end trip to the woods for nine 20somethings of the same crew (Reine Swart, Russell Crous, Liesl Ahlers, Cameron Scott, Steven Ward, Paige Bonnin, Kayla Privett, Suraya Rose Santos, Michael Lawrence Potter), who recently graduated from the same high school, they reunite to attend the big football game. They sit around a campfire in the woods to talk about old times, make jokes and bitch. They’re surprised by a visit from their old science teacher, Mr. Peterson (Sean Cameron Michael), who blames them for the death a few years ago of his teen son Caleb. He hung out with them and overdosed while partying. Now the mixed-up dad seeks revenge because the teens did not help him when he needed them to.
The crew wake up with explosive laser tag/bomb suicide vests on, with timers, after gassed by Peterson to make them unconscious. Peterson kills himself before he can watch his madman scheme unfold, whereby his aim is that only one will leave the woods alive. Teach sets it up so some vest wearers have longer countdown times than others. The idea is that the last one living will be the only one to survive.
The crew are a mix of uninteresting standard types, that range from the ruffian Kato (Russell Crous) to the former valedictorian who is expected to figure a way out this mess, Rian (Reine Swart).
The shallow story gets played out with many twists and turns. It leads us on to its conclusion by throwing in a few gags to ease the way, as it tries to find out which teen was responsible for the OD death of Caleb. The problem is the film never made me care about how it was resolved. I found it a plodding bore, with limited entertainment value and it was visually hard to see clearly in the night setting.
REVIEWED ON 11/8/2020 GRADE: C