I don't know if this is the worst straight-to-vid slasher film yet, but it's a serious
contender. It has a pretty good ending, but that represents nothing unexpected or
original, so the film's only real strength consists of exactly one good idea:
the murderer does not actually kill many of his victims. They are mental
patients who have been institutionalized for phobias, and the murderer uses
their own fears to create situations which trick the victims into killing
Against that one strength, let us review the
evidence of the film's many weaknesses:
(1) It starts with the dreaded "ten years earlier" prologue. Any horror film
writer who uses this gimmick now, after God knows how many previous uses have
exhausted it, should have his status as a writer permanently revoked in a
ceremony like the opening of "Branded," where the screenwriter stands in front
of his peers while his pencil is broken over the knee of the senior writer in
(2) It's bad enough that the prologue cliché exists at all but, as it always
does, it reveals the identity of the insane murderer before the damned story
even begins, even though that identity is the central mystery of the present-day
story. Well, let's see ... a young brother and sister watch their parents
slaughtered in the prologue. Obviously, they are both traumatized, and one of
them must be the insane boogeyman/murderer when the story jumps forward to the
present. If this were not true, the incident would have no bearing on the modern
story. We can see that the sister is not the murderer. Meanwhile the brother
mysteriously disappears to San Francisco, claiming to have a job interview one
day after he is released from the booby hatch. Gee ... I wonder who the killer
could be ...
(3) After showing us immediately who the killer must be, the script then
offers a series of lame red herrings in which various false suspects act as
creepy and demented as possible. (Until they are killed of course.)
(4) Here's my favorite plot element. After the murder ten years ago, the
brother was institutionalized, while the sister continued to live in the outside
world. On the first night that the brother is back, the sister has a really bad
dream, and she decides that she needs to receive the same treatment in the same
institution - for that matter in the same room - that did such a great job of
curing her brother.
- Ten years on her own, surviving quite nicely.
- Plus one bad dream when the appearance of her brother causes her to
re-experience her childhood trauma.
- Equals institutionalization in a maximum security mental facility.
When she gets to said institution, she is escorted to her brother's old room,
where the painting on the wall shows the two of them, as children, being scared
out of their wits. It looks like it was painted by someone who had just read an
H.P. Lovecraft story on acid. She finds nothing unusual about it. "Leave it up,"
she tells the compassionate shrink who thoughtfully left a grotesque, diabolical
painting of a childhood trauma on the wall for a person being treated for the
psychological repercussions of the very incident portrayed in the painting.
(5) The prime directive of grade-B horror movie characters is always in
force. B Horror Prime states that if there is something that represents a danger
to individuals and would be better faced by a group working together, the group
must split up and each of them must walk down a separate spooky, unlit corridor.
It's the law.
As the thrill-a-minute, pot-smokin' generation of today might say if they
were characters in a bad 90s comedy, "Dude, this movie is bogus."