10 October 2014 | lazarillo
How to Make an Effective Modern-Day Horror Movie
This is not a great modern-day horror movie, but it is a very effective one that I'd put somewhere between "House of 1,000 Corpses" And "House of the Devil", but also with a little rape-revenge thrown in. It has a very effective atmosphere with two college-age couples accompanying their friend "Leslie Van Hooten" to the wintry, isolated home of her parents on the anniversary of her boyfriend's death. It then turns into a pretty harrowing rape-revenge film when two criminals show up, who one of the couples had earlier tangled with. Rather than becoming a slick modern-day torture porn at this point though, these scenes have the more gritty feel of something like "Last House on the Left" (the 70's original). The movie then takes yet another turn, however, into a more "House of the Devil" territory, as is given away by the title (and perhaps the name of the main protagonist).
The characters are little more well-drawn than in other movies. They're college graduates and seem a little smarter than usual. One couple is the typical pair of horn-dogs who can't stop humping each other, but the other pair are Christians who spurn pre-marital sex (more unusual and more interesting). This doesn't mean that ANY of them are necessarily going to come out too well though. This also has an interesting scene where one of the rapist-murderers gets out of prison and stops to visit his deeply religious mother. It's unusual to give a character like this any kind of third dimension, but it actually makes the things he does later more disturbing.
The name actor here is Bill Mosely ("House of 1,000 Corpses"), who plays the "Van Hooten" father, but special mention must be made of the unknown cast of young people and the "democratic" use of nudity. The three girls all get naked. Nudity is pretty necessary here--you can't really make a harrowing rape-revenge film while pussy-footing around actresses' "no-nudity clauses". But even if some scenes are a little gratuitous, well, all horror movies today seem to have gratuitous (as in pretty unnecessary to the plot) sex scenes and shower scenes like this, but a lot of times they do them WITHOUT nudity, which is both pointless and annoying. Besides, the female characters are also the most well-developed and interesting--they're not just porn star types with fake looking breasts who are obviously just there to get naked. Calle Stephens and Emily Bennet are slightly better actresses, but Summer Bills deserves some mention, not just for being a very appealing little cutie, but I never would have found my way to this movie except I saw HER on the Investigation Discovery channel portraying the girlfriend of XXX superstar/possible murderer John Holmes (the same character played by Kate Bosworth in "Wonderland") and I was curious what else she was in. It's a pretty dumb motive for watching a horror movie maybe, but, hey, it worked out OK.