Fright Flick 2011 Review
Fright Flick 2011
Directed by: Israel Luna
Starring: Chad Allen, Richard D. Curtin, Todd Jenkins
Review by Luisito Joaquín González
So what did you slasher fans think of 2011? Thirty-three years after the release of Halloween and the genre is again going through something of a lull. The biggest flick of the year was the fourth chapter in the Scream trilogy, which to be fair was a bit of a flop, but most surprising was the amount (or therefore lack) of DTV entries that were financed by up and coming filmmakers. Now since the success of the original Scream, Brain Damage and the like have been rolling out slashers by the bucket load, but this year it all came to a thundering halt with very few hitting the ex-rental DVD sale section of Blockbusters. It’s become so bad that I’m longing for the likes of To Become One, Camp Blood and Paranoid again. Ok, so that’s an exaggeration, but you catch my drift
Fright Flick was one of those that snuck out last year, but even that’s not entirely proof that there’s still a desire to make these films, as it was completed in 2008. Shot in Dallas on a minimal budget by Texan filmmaker Israel Luna, who had received high praise for his camp cult/revenge flick Ticked-off Trannies with Knives, it was one I had been keen to see.
A group of filmmakers are preparing to shoot the third and final sequel to the ‘Fright Flick’ series, but almost as soon as production begins, there’s obvious animosity and jealousy on the set between the cast and crew. The franchise has something of a morbid history as during the development of the first chapter, the lead actress was murdered by an unseen assailant. As soon as shooting begins, it becomes apparent that the maniac has returned and the people involved begin to die at the gloved hand of the killer…
Many slasher movies have chosen film productions as a backdrop for slaughter and it is as good a reason as any to place a group of victims against a maniacal nut job. Although Fright Flick makes good use of its synopsis, it doesn’t try to blur its film within a film fantasy so much with the slashertastic reality of what’s going on. Cinematically, I guess you could say that this was closest in its structure to that forgotten entry, Return to Horror High, but it’s hard to tell if that’s intentional or not. There have been so many parodies by now of the flicks of old that at times it feels like there are no ideas left to mock. Luna’s self-penned script however gets the mix of humour and horror spot on, by keeping the references flowing but restricted to only a couple of major genre pictures. The hints are so subtle that at times I was unaware if they were deliberate or not, but then in the final third, the director reveals that he’s done his homework as we see a neat homage to Halloween II, Friday the 13th (heavy) and believe it or not, Pieces. It was delivered with finesse and without giving too much away, I loved the closing sequence and remember thinking, ‘Are they really going to go there?’ Go there they did and it was a perfect OTT and fitting finale.
Israel Luna is a proud member of his local gay community and if I hadn’t just told you that, you’d easily have guessed it by watching this film (and Ticked-Off Trannies most definitely). Almost every male character here is either homosexual or bi and he camps them up to the max, which leads to a few intentional laughs. There are jokes that are targeted specifically at gay film fans, but as a straight guy, I also enjoyed them. There’s pretty much something here for all genre enthusiasts and if you keep in mind that the first thing(s) on-screen are an enormous pair of silicone lady lumps in the most gratuitous ‘shower scene’ anywhere ever, you will know pretty much what to expect.
There’s quite a bit of gore too and the opening few murders are creative and fast paced. We get a tripod through the skull, a smart decapitation (one of two) and the most ingenious ‘garden shear murder’ that I have seen for a while. I wasn’t amazed by Luna’s direction; I mean, there were no stand-out ‘wow’ sequences, but the odd trick he pulled off just about worked. The ‘turn on the light’ sequence in the bathroom was well handled and there were a couple of decent jumps. It’s also worth keeping in mind that the sound wasn’t completed on the rough print I watched, so it’ll probably look a lot better in the final release that you folks will see. What was weird was that whilst the first four of five murders were rock and roll, they started to become a bit samey as the film wore on. It’s almost as if the director ran out of budget later and had to take us back to basics.
The performances are below average, but passable, it all looks polished enough and it’s a fun popcorn flick that delivers most things you’re looking for from a slasher movie. So is there anything that I hated? Well, to be honest, no not really. The characters are all unlikeable but it seemed like part of the gimmick, so I can’t really complain about that. There were only very few scares, but most modern-day slashers have lost the art of building a foreboding atmosphere, so it’s become par for the course. It’s called Fright Flick, but there’s nothing here very frightening. In fact, there’s nothing at all. It’s not one for people who can’t forgive the odd goof, because it gets very stupid in places, especially in the way that some of the victims are still screaming/moving LONG after they should have been dead.
This is a straight up new age slasher flick that makes the most of a low-budget and aims to give viewers a good time. I would say that it’s better than Gutterballs that was produced around the same time and if you set your expectations low enough, you’ll probably enjoy some of the cool murders and easy-to-recognise references from one of the category faves. Although I would love to see a modern-day entry that captures the chilling environment that we saw in the likes of The Mutilator, House by the Cemetery and The Prowler, until then this is as good as we’ve got – and by now, I am used to it.
Final Girl: √