Trick, the killer, has a penchant for putting together Rube Goldberg contraptions with incredible speed. One literally involves tying a man to a chair, which is tied to a lamppost, which is tied to several blocks of cement (don’t ask) – Trick incredulously makes it all happen during the time-span of a bathroom break. The pay-off – a beheading and some sliced fingers – is almost worth the effort, if you ask me.
What bothered me the most – apart from the stereotypical, utterly predictable proceedings – were the allusions to the current school shootings… in a C-level, nihilistic horror flick. Those shootings are taking place all over the United States, with quiet, seemingly “normal” kids picking up weapons and murdering their peers. Trick’s brainless, blunt stabs (pun intended) at exploring the psychology of those students are hideously dim-witted. “He was quiet, smart,” a friend speaks of Trick. “What about his folks?” another thinks out-loud. “Did he know he was like this or did they… make him this way?” This is about as “deep” as the film gets, before resorting back to gutting and dismembering humans for our visceral pleasure. Have the cake, eat it, smear it all over your face.
For someone so familiar with horror fare, Lussier sure ticks off every cliché in the book, failing to add a modicum of originality – yet he has the audacity to reference a classic like Day of the Dead, which to this film is like the New York Yankees are to the Baltimore Orioles. The murder sequences get painfully repetitive, and the ones in-between painfully boring. Dumb characters make dumb decisions leading to dumb consequences, uttering dumb lines of dialogue. “You saw it, right? His eyes? He was getting off on it,” Mike stammers in disbelief as if most serial killers do their thing reluctantly. Other highlights include: “You’re confusing ‘evil’ with ‘crazy’”; ”I eat with cops, I roll with cops, I fuck cops”; and my personal favorite: “Maybe you just don’t get it. You’re dying. And when you’re dead, you’re dead.”
Aside from Epps dutifully delivering his lines like he’s rehearsing for a high-school play, Kristina Reyes takes the hardest hit, her character delegated to a plot device. Her confusion – or, perhaps, lack of prowess (yikes!) – is most evident in a purportedly heartbreaking sequence between her and her father. Screen veteran Tom Atkins plays an opinionated diner owner who ends up unholstering his shotgun, and Jamie Kennedy, of all people, shows up oh-so-briefly as a doctor. Guess Lussier made a friend in that Scream editing room.
Hardcore gorehounds will be disappointed by the lukewarm scares. Fans of throwback films will groan at the lack of tongue-in-cheek references. Anyone who’s seen a film will groan at the stupidity of it all. Considering his experience, Patrick Lussier should’ve done better than this.