Okay, okay, what card-carrying horror fan is NOT going to like a movie that starts out with two beautiful lesbian women hiking out into the woods (one with flip flops on!) for a little carpet munching in their secluded tent? (Lit exactly like the tent scene in JASON GOES TO HELL, mind you!) Of course, after their, uh, session, they get killed, but it's definitely a great way to get your attention.
Turns out these gals don't have much to do with the rest of the story...they were just "practice" for a novice killer who is going through a high school yearbook and "X"-ing out classmates with Dario Argento leather gloves...The ol' "victims to be" routine...
The story kicks in with a group of friends meeting at a secluded cabin in the woods for a 10th Anniversary Reunion...And what do you think happens to them at said cabin? One by one, they get offed by an unseen killer. As the classic tagline goes..."Who Will Survive And What Will Be Left Of Them?" And...who is doing the killing? The dorky "Crazy Ralph" like Game Warden that drools over the gals (stealing one girl's panties and rubbing Mr. Happy as he sniffs 'em)...Or the hitchhiking jail bait teenage girl one of the Reunion Boyz picked up, who seems a little knife crazy, even while giving handjobs to guys wo give her a ride? Or maybe the fellow classmate that owns the cabin...he never showed...Is he the killer or will his body show up in the last reel?
Despite the cliche sounding plot, this movie is a highly entertaining throwback to suspense slashers of the 80's. The lighting...the angles...the woods themselves...all become characters or ambiances that tell the story. Director Michael Hoffman, Jr. is definitely a horror fan, and it shows with his zealous homages to everything from Italian gore flicks, FRIDAY THE 13th, TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, and EVIL DEAD. The homages are very covert and just fun to pick out with his choices of camera angles and focus, not overdone at all. Never has Digital Video looked so close to emulating the 16mm grainy film stock of classics like HILLS HAVE EYES...
The story is a slow burn, slowly unfolding, and fans who like fast-cutting and nonstop action might have their patience tried, but again, those who love the tension of movies like THE BURNING and APRIL FOOL'S DAY will have their reward when the ending kicks in...When the killer is revealed, it's definitely a bit of a left-field surprise and the motivations are twistedly unique! Very much a nice riff on FRIDAY THE 13th, this movie delivered the goods at the end.
Gore is minimal throughout the proceedings, but there are some standout moments (when one character gets their head bashed into a tree endlessly and another is bitten in the neck by someone), but I think showing too much latex would've altered the suspenseful mood too much. The way this movie is put together, what you do see...works just fine. There's plenty of aftermath shots and a nice salute to HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME as well...Again, the more you watch this movie, the more you'll have a blast picking out all the subtle salutes Hoffman pays to his (and our) favorite slasher movies of a bygone era.
The acting is credible (with some giving better performances than others) but everyone is good enough to make the story roll along to its crazy conclusion. There's plenty of eye candy with sexy girls in revealing costumes, the aforementioned lesbian opening, and lots of violence that is both seen and unseen- a delicate balance that director Hoffman handles well, considering many decisions were made due to budgetary issues and concerns. (The extras on the DVD tell the story of how difficult it was to make this movie- and make it all the more enjoyable when you see and hear what the cast and crew were up against!)
So if you're looking for something new in the suspense/slasher genre...with a bit of the old peppered in...check out R.O.T.! I don't think you'll be disappointed!