Senior Cut Days, written and directed by Alvin Gray, plays out like a homage to the Wes Craven classic The Hills Have Eyes. Admittedly, it does not have the greatest acting and cast to carry the weight of the film. However, the production is decently photographed, and the plot is relatively interesting for a minimal budget of $75,000.
Without providing spoilers, the film centers around a group of young adults who travel to an isolated town in Nevada. There they encounter an unexpected series of disturbing events set into motion by a government experiment conducted in the 1980s and has gone awry. As a result, the characters end up in a fight for survival in the desert.
We’ve seen such plots and characters before. However, it is always fun to see new filmmakers embracing the classic roots of horror. The characters are not particularly memorable, and the dialogue is somewhat forced. Yes, the plot is formulaic, but that is okay. It is fun and does not take itself deadly seriously. Plus, the filmmaker does create some simmering tension.
“…end up in a fight for survival in the desert.”
Senior Cut Days has the obligatory scenes of the group of young people indulging in alcohol and drugs around a campfire and mocking the malevolent forces that surround them. Eventually, these forces overcome them and leave the main characters in a state of panic, desperately fighting to keep alive. While there is abundant violence, the film is not very bloody. The special effects and make-up could have been more effective, but the action and fight sequences are reasonably well-staged and play out with the right amount of intensity.
I found myself quite interested in the premise, which boasts a creative plotline to an old genre. There are elements of The Walking Dead and Night of the Living Dead, as well. This genre can get tiresome, with so many films and shows competing with similar plot lines. This makes Senior Cut Days a refreshing entry into the horror genre and something that cannot be dismissed entirely. Gray creates effective continuity, but there are plotholes.
Still, this is a decent way to pass the time, particularly if you are a horror fan. This is a creepy watch if you like to see new, promising filmmakers like Alvin Gray struggling to create content in this arena outside the studio system. Many filmmakers try and fail to make horror films, which are extremely lucrative and popular. I do not foresee this film being a cult classic, but Gray does demonstrate evidence of talent and a command of the material. I would like to see him make more films with a higher budget to discover how he measures up to modern horror filmmakers such as James Wan, Eli Roth, and Ti West.
As a horror fan, I ultimately found Senior Cut Days engaging enough to demand my attention for its brief run time. I did overlook the budgetary limitations and sought out the elements which were appealing to me. What appealed to me most was that the film struggles to keep the classic heart of the horror film of the 1970s, which has generated the best entries in the genre, alive. It’s nice to see that the greats, Craven, Hooper, and Carpenter, have not been forgotten. Gray struggles in a noble effort to keep this spirit and purity of a good scare alive. It is an optimistic outlook for the future of modern horror that recalls the past.
"…engaging enough to demand my attention..."