Director: Nancy Norman
Year of release: 2007
Country of origin: USA
Running time: 72 minutes
DVD/Blu ray: DVD only
Tagline: "Some secrets can kill".
Casting the spotlight on the slasher genre
Story: On the mean streets of Chicago one April night geeky young Melvin thinks he is about to get lucky with the attractive De Anna until that is he realises he has been set up for an April Fools prank. He is instead pushed to the ground while De Anna's friends pop up to laugh at him and steal his pance. The nicer girl of the group Missy tries to put a stop to things by giving Melvin his pance back but soon things get out of control and quite by accident Melvin ends up dead. In typical slasher fashion the group decide to leave the incident unreported. In a slightly new turn of events they instead agree to shoot Melvin's corpse to make it look like a gang related murder. One year later around the time of the following years April Fools Day someone appears to be claiming revenge on the unfortunate Melvin's behalf as the kids involved in the cover up begin to die. We follow Missy and her police detective father as they both attempt to get to the bottom of things before Missy herself becomes the latest victim.
Good points: I thought some of the characters in this were okay with Missy's father and detective played by Obba Babatunde being easily the best actor and his partner Detective Ward was pretty good as well in a smaller role. Missy herself was passable as a final girl and they tried to give her character a little depth by making it known several times that her mother had recently died of cancer which was effecting her and she had a fractured relationship as well with her workaholic father. Near the start there was also rather a funny character who had a cameo as a morgue worker/coroner with a interesting look to him (big Adam's apple) and an extensive vocabulary.
Taking place in Chicago in a predominantly black neighborhood and with an almost entirely black cast this falls into a select group of urban style slashers. As such it feels a bit fresher than the very typical storyline would otherwise allow and it is a bit more unique and noteworthy as a result. It sits nicely alongside a limited number of similar slashers like CutThroat Alley and Urban Massacre which are perhaps the most obvious examples of similar films within the genre.
The killer has a mask and a black outfit which reminded me a bit of Scream (the outfit more so than the mask) with a more modern hoody type look to it. We never really got to see the mask properly which was a shame as it looked interesting but they score points with me for going to the trouble of dressing the killer up a little bit and certainty for providing a mask. Incidentally the killer is actually without the mask at one point just having the hoody pulled up but this isn't a problem as it makes sense for this to be done at the time given the location. Slight spoiler here: One silly thing though is that Missy clearly sees the lower portion of the killers face during this time to note that he is black. Shortly after though when quizzed by the police to provide details of the killers appearance including race she says she doesn't know anything.
The opening scene at the start involving the Melvin accident is quite brief and maybe only half the bullies get enough screen time here to be even remotely memorable. Due to this I was worried that I wouldn't recognise who was who later when they started getting picked off. The filmmakers anticipated this though and provided us with short black and white flashbacks at various points when certain characters were on screen in the present day to remind us of their role in the Melvin incident the year before. It was a nice touch that helped makes things clear where it otherwise could have been a little hard to follow.
Bad Points: Unfortunately this is very tame with hardly any bloodshed. We never see the knife actually going into a body either so there aren't any special effects to speak of. The kills are very dull as well with them all just being stabbings some of which are also off camera. There is also an embarrassing fight scene that takes place at the Spring Jam dance that looks rubbish.
Speaking of the Spring Jam dance though I thought the music and dancing was okay the scene seemed to go on for too long with not a lot happening for too much of it. It felt like it was made longer than it needed to be just to try and pad out the running time.
The ending of the film involving Missy and her confrontation with the killer is really quite dreadful and like the fight scene at the dance a bit embarrassing to behold. Without giving too much away the manner in which she deals with the killer at the end seems very unrealistic and unimaginative. For lack of a better way of putting it the effects here aren't very good either.
I also didn't think the reason for the killer carrying out the murders was very plausible. It didn't seem like much thought had gone into it and that there would be enough motivation there to go on a killing spree. There is a bit of mystery about who the killer is which I liked but it is quite easy to guess. Another thing though which was a bit suspect was the way in which Missy came to realise who the killer was. Again I don't want to say how she did it but it didn't seem very plausible that such a tiny thing would lead her to making the deduction.
Going back to the beginning of the film the Melvin accident was badly done as well. Minor spoiler ahead: After being given his trousers back by Missy, Melvin turns his back on the group and struggles to pull them back on. As he does so one of the group throws a football at his back which causes Melvin to fall forward on to some sort of spike or something (it isn't very clear) that just happened to be sticking out of the ground in front of him though this is the first we've seen of it. It didn't look very good and I was thinking surely they could have come up with something better than that?
In a very small quibble just near the start De Anna is given a small bag of what I assume is blood or organs to be taken to the hospital incinerator. In the next scene though as she goes about her chore the bag suddenly seems a lot bigger and is full despite being only about a third full just before.
Verdict: This film was passable I thought and as a big slasher fan I was able to get some enjoyment out of it. It is very much one for slasher enthusiasts only though as I think for everyone else it wouldn't really be tolerated. There are a lot of bad aspects to it that let the project down but it never for me became a real chore to watch, it was very average but for me no worse than that despite it's flaws. The very standard typical storyline didn't bother me as I like seeing the standard cliches of the genre reused so although that may be a turnoff for some the lack of originality didn't trouble me. I enjoyed the fresher slant that this one had anyway with being a more urban style slasher. A black final girl is always nice as that is such a rarity.
Bodycount (contains major spoilers):
1) Melvin: Knocked forward by a thrown football to impale himself on some sort of spike.
2) De Anna: Stabbed in the hospital basement.
3) Eva: Leg trapped under fallen locker and the stabbed in the locker room/shower area.
4) Diego: Throat cut (I think) in the toilet at the Spring Jam dance party.
5) Mrs Johnson: Attacked off camera and stumbles back into shot after being knifed.
6) Malik: Gets into a fight with the killer at the dance surrounded by people and is stabbed in the process though we don't really see it properly.
7) Policeman #1: Seen dead on the floor at the Missy Combs residence.
8) Policeman #2: Found dead in a car outside Scoop's house.
9) Scoop: Missy grabs his hand which is holding a knife and somehow overpowers him forcing him to thrust it into his own body.