Newest Review: ... enjoy it more than most adults, until it comes to the ending. There are a couple of extras with the DVD. I quite enjoyed watching th... more
Reeking of quality or rubbish?
Member Name: sunmeilan
Advantages: Interesting ending...if you get it
Disadvantages: Generally not that memorable
A group of five teenagers are sharing a ride to a party in the desert. On the way, Trip admits that he has a huge stash of ecstasy tablets on him and the driver, Gretchen, who is anti-drugs, tells him he must find another ride - just as well because the dealer Trip stole them from is following him with revenge on his mind. Gretchen agrees to drive him back to a diner where he can arrange another lift...but on arrival, they find the diner is deserted and there is no phone or TV signal. Even worse, strange things start to happen - there is a weird smell in the air and very strange people appear and then disappear. What is causing the smell, and who are all the strangers? Will the dealer catch up with Trip? And will any of them survive the experience?
As with many horror movies that involve teenagers, few of the characters are very likeable, although there is an attempt to give them more background than most films of this type. Gretchen can probably be described as the 'main' character, in that she has the most screen time. Played by Tina Illman, she is the sensible one of the group, although she comes across as being slightly sanctimonious at times. Illman does a reasonable job in the role - at least she is convincing enough for the film. My only real criticism is that she has an accent, which is explained away as being Australian or South African, but she sounded more European to me - it doesn't really matter, but it did niggle a bit and took my attention away from the proceedings.
Derek Richardson plays another of the group. I recognised him from Hostel, where he played one of the more likeable characters, and I liked him again in this film - he doesn't really do anything out of the ordinary, but he was certainly less of a pain than the other characters. He manages to get together with Cookie, played by Arielle Kebbel - she is giggly and silly and is easily the most annoying character. Judging from her appearance in one of the extras, she is like that in real life too. The other two members of the group, Trip and Jack, are played by Scott Whyte and Devon Gummersall - the latter is probably the better of the two because he convincingly plays a blind guy. Scott Whyte is suitably obnoxious as Trip though and his good looks will appeal to a lot of people.
At first glance, this appears to be a reasonably well-made road trip/slasher film of the the type that has been done so often. And to be honest, right through until the end, my opinion really didn't change very much. It's all been done before, sometimes a lot worse, rarely much better. Then everything changes at the end and a lot of things suddenly make sense. That is, if you follow the ending. The first time I watched it, I was completely confused and didn't understand any of it. I then rewound and watched it again and was actually quite impressed. It is an attempt to take a normal horror up to the next level, and to a certain extent, director Dave Payne, was successful. Unfortunately, I suspect that the majority of people won't follow it, at least not the first time around, which nullifies the whole point. It's all very well trying to be clever, but if it isn't expressed in a way that most people can't understand the first time around, then it is a bit of a waste of time.
The film was made in 2005, so the special effects are generally very good. There is a scene early on in the film when someone's head is cut in half, which is quite well done, and there's a wonderful toilet scene where one of the teenagers is attacked by something coming up out of the toilet. I wasn't so impressed by a couple of the more ghostly characters though - they just didn't feel all that realistic and didn't seem to fit in with the overall quality of the rest of the film. It is still a fairly gory film though, so those who don't have the stomach for horror films will want to stay clear. There is a rating of 15 and that is probably just right - teenagers will probably enjoy it more than most adults, until it comes to the ending.
There are a couple of extras with the DVD. I quite enjoyed watching the making of documentary, which is largely made up of cast interviews. It isn't anything out of the ordinary though, and the annoying Arielle Kebbel is given too much screen time. It does partially explain the ending, so if you didn't get it, the documentary might be worth watching. Just don't watch it before the film! Then there is a trailer and introduction to the film, cast interviews and a photo gallery. Finally, if you're into audio commentaries, there is one with the cast and crew.
Right up to the last ten minutes, I found this film watchable, but mundane, and way too similar to any number of similar horrors involving groups of teenagers. Once I had grasped the ending, it did rise up in my estimation - I just wish I had understood it the first time around and I think that the fact I didn't is down to a weakness on the part of the director (or maybe I'm just stupid). I'm certainly glad I didn't watch it in a cinema, because I would have been furious at having paid to see a film I didn't understand. Recommended if you really like this genre; if you are ambivalent, there are better horrors out there - Hitchhiker, for example.
The DVD is available from play.com for £4.99.
Running time: 90 minutes
Summary: Twist in the tale not really enough here