Director: Ben Dietels
Year of release: 2018
Country of origin: USA
Running time: I'm not sure as it doesn't say either on the case or on the IMDB. It seemed pretty long though.
DVD/Blu ray: Both though in imited number.
Tagline: "No one stays alive on Slaughter Drive".
Casting the spotlight on the slasher genre
Story: Depressed filmmaker Doug returns home after some unsuccessful time away working on a failed movie project. He is close with two young teachers who try and encourage him to move on and put his recent failures (which include a broken marriage) behind him. Inspired Doug begins work on shooting for a new film short. He sets up his camera equipment at the local park hoping to capture footage which he can use to put together a time lapse sequence of the sunset and the rise of the moon. His teacher friends however want his help with a prank they are pulling so Doug reluctantly goes along with them leaving his camera equipment unattended. When he returns sometime later he is disconcerted to find a man lurking in the shadows watching him. The man runs off and as the camera appears untampered with Doug doesn't think too much of it and collects his equipment. After checking it the following day he finds he has captured a murder on camera with the person watching him from earlier seeming to batter and then shoot someone wrapped in a bin bag. Doug and those around him then becomes targets of the killer as he sets upon a murder spree around the neighborhood. Doug enlists the help of his teacher friends Gene and Robbie to try and put a stop to it. Suspicion quickly falls on an odd man named Mark Flowers who has just moved into the area with his sister.
Good points: Doug makes for a very likeable lead and his presence means we have a final boy instead of a final girl which always warrants a mention and can make for a nice change. Ben Dietels who plays Doug portrays a kind of loveable loser character very well and also proves to be a man of more than one talent as in addition to acting the lead role he also directs the project as well as writing the script. Doug's two teacher buddies Robbie and Gene (hope I'm getting those names right) also make for entertaining characters and can be funny at times with the three actors playing off each other well.
Though this is a small budget independent production, according to the IMDB made for around $10,000 the production values are good throughout. The picture quality in particular is fantastic and is crystal clear from start to finish. There are no issues with the sound and the acting (from the leads at least) is solid enough. Music is all right as well, nothing that stands out too much but it isn't noticeably bad either. Maybe this whole positive point seems a bit funny as for a regular budget film I wouldn't comment on some of these things just expecting them as standard. I guess I judge lower budget films slightly differently (perhaps subconsciously) which is maybe a bit unfair as it means they can sometimes get praised for things that others wouldn't. Still as most everything is on point in this one in this regard and as it is very much a low budget film I thought it deserved the plaudits.
The kills are a definite strong point with the special effects being of high quality (again especially taking into account the budgetary restraints). Some of them are very brutal with the killer also using a number of different weapons and techniques to dispatch the victims. Some of the best bits involve a drill to the eye and an axe to the face.
I'm not sure if this counts as a positive or not but there are very few female kills in this with almost all of those killed being male. Kind of sets it apart from the majority of the pack I guess in the same way that the final boy over a final girl does.
Bad Points: This is billed as a horror comedy and because of it has a tendency to be silly at times, too silly for my taste on occasion. I did feel that Doug and the teacher characters worked well together generally though sometimes I found their antics and banter together to be too much. Too childish and unrealistic for me. By far the worst offending incident is the ending and how the friends take down the killer. I don't want to give too much away but it is incredibly silly and unrealistic taking the film into cartoon territory.
The killer doesn't look very good with the only costume we get being a blue hoody and bandana covering the lower portion of the face. Needless to say it doesn't impress. The film also lacks any kind of whodunnit aspects as it is revealed quite early on who is behind the murders. There is no backstory to the killer either which doesn't help things.
I was surprised not to see Doug's ex wife Gina make a further appearance later in the film. Her segment near the beginning provided one of the films funniest moments so I was looking forward to her return later as I felt for sure she would be one of the victims. Strangely she wasn't though and didn't appear again despite her new lover appearing as a victim which was odd seeing that he wasn't as high profile as she was. Or at least if she did appear it was only for a split second as a blonde woman was seen restrained in a van which possibly could have been her. (Spoiler: When waking up next to the lover Doug does see what look to be the hands of a corpse next to him so perhaps these hands were supposed to belong to Gina but I doubt it).
At one point Doug, Robbie and Gene obtain a van and go on a shopping spree buying supplies from a DIY shop for a stakeout at the killers house. Apparently Doug has some sort of plan in mind which would utilise these items. We never get to see what the plan is though which is a bit disappointing as when someone drives out of the house they all just follow him separately so the plan whatever it was is abandoned. This renders the whole shopping sequence kind of redundant.
The film can be very confusing at times. We get a dream sequence that didn't make much sense and the whole incident with the killer being caught on Doug's camera is a problem as I wasn't sure who the person being attacked/killed was. Spoiler ahead here: The most confusing thing though stems from an incident involving a watch which Doug recognises being worn by the killers sister. It was a watch he saw someone wearing on the TV news, a woman called Casey who is a missing person and someone who I think we saw killed at the very start. Or at least I think we did as that person appeared to be called Casey though she had red hair instead of being blonde and also wasn't even wearing a watch to add to the confusion. Plus just prior to this early death the lady in question is putting her car away in the garage and in doing so she detects a noise in her car trunk as if someone is trapped in there. Just as she opens it though she is attacked so we never got to see who was in there. So either this was supposed to be another victim placed there to distract the red haired woman (perhaps the same person finished off in the park) or it was perhaps the sister of the killer who had hidden in there herself again as a distraction. I later thought that perhaps this red haired woman wasn't Casey at all (I thought it was Casey because she picked up some takeout food which had Casey written on the packaging). She was speaking to someone on the phone just prior to this however so perhaps Casey was a friend who had reserved some takeout under her own name for the red haired woman to pick up. Thus this mysterious Casey could be blonde after all and could be the person put into the car trunk off camera and then later killed in the park. I'm sure reading this I've completely lost you and you have no idea what I'm talking about. Well it's exactly the same watching this part of the film as this whole business is so poorly presented it doesn't make much sense at all and is difficult to follow.
Verdict: A decent enough effort in some areas in particular the deaths and the gore effects that go with them. This is backed up by slick visual presentation and a mostly solid performance from Ben Dietels in his duel role of actor and director. Unfortunately though the many bad things hinder the project and ultimately drag it down into the territory of it being a bit of a chore to sit through. I think it would have benefited with less comedy, more of a focus on the motivation and backstory of the killer plus an upgrade to his look and of course a tightening up of the confusing areas.
Bodycount (contains major spoilers):
1) Red haired woman: Found disemboweled in the garage.
2) Steve: Throat cut.
3) Person killed in the park. Bludgeoned and then shot.
4) Friend #1: Another throat cutting.
5) Friend #2: Knocked to the ground with a neck injury and then finished off with a drill to the eye.
6) Gina's lover: Axe to the face.
7) Van owner: Is hit in the eye with the claw end of a hammer and then battered with the other end.
8) Friend #3: Found tied to a chair with a throat injury but quickly dies from the wound.
9) Mark Flowers: Face melted down to the skull after a bucket of what I think was supposed to be full of Gene's semen ejaculate was dumped on his head.
*I didn't count Mark's sister who was shot by Robbie as at the end of the credits she was briefly shown screaming so she must have still been alive.