If there’s one thing that can kill a film dead before it even begins, it’s an opening credits sequence in which still images of everything you’re about to watch are laid out before your eyes; and it happens far more often than you’d think, most recently with the fourth Mission: Impossible movie. It’s a horrible technique that’s never made any sense and therefore makes even less sense to a low budget horror drama masked in mystique.
The plot is pretty familiar – a young couple go away together only to fall foul of…something – but it’s exactly what the threat is and how it’s unveiled to both us and them that define the film. Whilst the tension-building is superbly handled (if a little slow) and the threatening shadow looming large is rather effectively done, it’s the reveal that falls somewhat flat, the reasoning and logic behind it that leaves you scratching your head and wondering quite what the point of the entire film actually was.
The poor state of affairs isn’t helped by Iain De Caestecker in the lead. De Caestecker is simply a drip of an actor, a blubbering saliva bubble of an actor known mostly for playing the gibbering comic relief on TV’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. (something that takes about ten minutes to place him in in your head); while Eden Lake ran with a similar tone and had Michael Fassbender to elevate it above its station, this fares so much worse in the inept hands of De Caestecker, who is so intensely unlikeable as a supposedly endearing lead that it’s hard not to root for him to suffer a grisly end. Whilst Beautiful Creatures’ Alice Englert fares a lot better, it’s hard not wonder if she simply comes off that way next to her rather shoddy co-star.
The first half of the movie is definitely its highlight however; and, as pointed out, does succeed in building up the tension nicely. It’s the lack of a satisfactory follow-through though that ultimately makes it all bark and no bite, at best a competently shot bark at that. That the film has a writer, story and story consultant credit to its name is frankly mystifying; and, worryingly, something of more substantial interest than the finished film itself.
Catch Van Connor’s reviews in our Movies section and live on Slam Dunk Cinema every Saturday at 12PM on Sheffield Live! 93.2FM or on the podcast via iTunes.
Iain De Caestecker, Alice Englert