There are no original ideas left, cynical people often say.
However, there are original ways to create new things from the old ones. This film, despite the clunky forgettable title, is a perfect example. This film was made for us, the horror movie geeks!
The “world” of this movie exists in an alternate reality, where the movie slashers we grew up with in the 80’s actually existed, and the characters in this film reference that consistently and casually. Half of the joy of this film is in spotting the reference to the old school of slasher horror. It starts with a great opening scene of our reporter and heroine Taylor talking up the exploits of Leslie Vernon, a new generation slasher, against shots of Haddonfield, Elm Street, and Crystal Lake. Kane Hodder, who originally played behind the Jason mask, is pictured as living in the famous Elm Street house in a knowing nod to all of us horror fans.
The classic references don’t stop there. Leslie’s real last name, Mancuso, is a reference to the producer of most of the Friday the 13th films, Frank Mancuso, Jr. In the scene where Leslie is suiting up, a song from the soundtrack of The Shining can be heard and blocks in the background spell out the word “redrum”. Eugene’s wife, Jamie, is named in homage to Jamie Lee Curtis, who played the final girl role in the originator, Halloween. The three young girls skipping rope outside of the high school are dressed the same as the girls from the A Nightmare on Elm Street series. Leslie has a bottle of “Stay Awake” on his mantle, the same medicine featured in ANOES. When Eugene and Jamie are giving Leslie his doggie bag, the Lament Configuration from Hellraiser can be seen next to a lamp. Also, Leslie’s pet turtles, Church and Zowie, are an allusion to two of the pets in the Pet Sematary films.
The references to these classic films may seem like they would be intrusive, but, I haven’t yet mentioned how ingenious and convincing the entire film is. You are completely immersed in this bizarre alternate universe, where all of those guys who you used to tell yourself were “just a movie” when you were a kid really exist, and there is a new generation out there, building on the foundations built by Fred, Mike, and Jay. The first half uses the now-tired “documentary” style to great effect, since the brazen young serial killer, Leslie Vernon, has agreed to let Taylor and her crew film his life and give them unheard-of access to the preparation and work it takes to stage a mass murder that would stand up against the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
The second half switches out of Steadicam mode, and turns the classic slasher flicks on their head. The creepy short lady with the creepy voice from Poltergeist is the first victim chosen to be Leslie’s “red herring” and spook his intended final girl. That is when Robert Englund (Freddy himself) shows up as Doc Halloran (a reference to Scatman Cruthers character in The Shining) to put a stop to this senseless killing, much like the classic Dr. Loomis character from the original Halloween. They refer to him as an “Ahab”, and Leslie is excited to have a nemesis on his tail.
All in all, this is a smart low-budget flick with the street cred and heart to make it all work. The story twists and turns at a quick pace, and sometimes things escalate to pure horror before you know it, punctuated with knowing laughter.
In one of the deleted scenes, Leslie is asked what he has been doing, and he mentions having “spent some time in Texas, helping a friend kind of reinvent his thing,” which is an obvious allusion to Leatherface in the remake of Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
Highly recommended to all horror geeks.
Grade : A
Faithfully submitted by Darth Biscuits.