Jimi Hendrix, Brian Wilson, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain, Jim Morrison, and Amy Winehouse all died at age 27. Due to statistics, that have been since debunked, and the public’s love of famous people, the coincidence that all these people died at the same age has turned into a conspiracy theory of sorts. Quite frankly, as ridiculous as the idea may be, a horror movie that uses demonic possession and Faustian bargains as the reason for death at 27-years-old is one of the better ways to mine this territory.
Enter The 27 Club, from director Patrick Fogarty and co-written by Fogarty, Joe Flanders, and Michael Lynn. Journalism student Jason (Derrick Denicola), is looking into the 27 Club and any possible connections the deaths may have had. Meanwhile, Lily (Maddisyn Carter) is an aspiring musician who is looking into the possibility of supernatural elements that helped shape the 27 Club; to ensure a successful career. The two team up to discover the truth of the curse, and to find if there is a way to survive it beyond 27.
“…an aspiring musician who is looking into the possibility of supernatural elements that helped shape the 27 club; to ensure a successful career.”
The 27 Club is impressively well researched, macabre though the subject matter may be. Throughout the film, there are cutaways to Hendrix, Winehouse, and several other musicians who speak directly to the camera. While I am not entirely sure, what these musicians are saying seem to be direct quotes. If not, then the writers did an excellent job at channeling their individual voices.
Sadly, that seems to be where the creativity ends. This film is a horror movie that involves demons, an ancient book of the dead, and a desire to be famous. The characters are let down by a story that does not allow them to grow or evolve. Jason starts the film in believing that the 27 Club is real and he’s correct. Even after knowing the truth, Lily wants to be a famous singer. So, the writers essentially trapped themselves in a corner with the way they introduced the characters. Therefore no one’s arc is compelling because these people have known to learn or a way to grow.
Even worse, is that every twist is telegraphed early on and the film never lands even a basic jump scare; much less a full-blown atmosphere of intense dread. In part, this lack of frights is due to the humdrum, lifeless cinematography. The 27 Club looks like every made-for-TV horror movie you can imagine. Mind you, this isn’t a television film, but an independently produced, direct-to-video (or streaming) low-budget affair.
“…looks like every made-for-TV horror movie you can imagine.”
I am not asking for Bram Stoker’s Dracula levels of visual prowess- few films, even massive studio titles- achieve such startling atmosphere while being so experimental and inventive with its cinematography. However, other movies with comparable resources such as Tone-Deaf or Girl On The Third Floor, for whatever flaws they may have, do contain a visual personality. This ensures that scenes from these movies are memorable and recognizable even after a single viewing. Each scene throughout this tepid journey is dull, with simple lighting and banal shot compositions.
The 27 Club is too competent in its structure and pace to be so bad; it’s good recommendation. Yet due to the bland, forgettable acting, the characters who don’t have any arc to speak of, and the rote, drab visual presentation, the movie is a dull viewing experience.
The 27 Club (2019) Directed by Patrick Fogarty. Written by Patrick Fogarty, Joe Flanders, Michael Lynn. Starring Derrick Denicola, Maddisyn Carter, Adam Celentano, Victoria De Mare, Nick Principe, Kali Cook, Todd Rundgren.
4 out of 10 Gummi Bears