Coming to Home Video October 9th
The latest film from Darren Lynn Bousman starts with a couple hiking in the woods and stumbling upon some bones and blood and running for their lives when they see something in the distance that looks like it could harm them. Well, as you can guess this couple does not make it out alive. Then we cut to the true plot of this film, as Richard Vineyard who is portrayed by Stephen Moyer from True Blood takes his family on a camping trip into a wooded area known as “the barrens”. In these New Jersey woods there is this myth about a mythological creature that can fly and roams these woods killing innocent people. Richard’s family is your typical stereotypical Hollywood produced shallow family. You have the little boy who is just like every other horror film little boy, the rebellious teen daughter and the naïve wife. Well things from the get-go of this trip go wrong when they are driving on their way and come to a forced stop when a deer stumbles into the road with its intestines hanging down. We learn later in the film, that the whole purpose of this trip is that the family needs to bond, and that Richard needs to dump his father’s ashes in the lake they used to fish when he was a kid.
Well when they get to the camp site they realize they are not alone, there are tons of other people there as well. From the first second he sets up the tent, you know there is something wrong, Richard starts getting hallucinations and acting strange. During the first night at the camp, a group of people gather and tell the story of the New Jersey Devil, and the story was meant to create a scare, it angers Richard that he tells his family that in the morning they are going to pack up and move further up the trail. As you can guess, it is when they break away things start happening like people missing, strange sounds that cannot be explained and Richard getting odder.
This film has a great concept, but a very poor delivery. The script seemed like it was incomplete, the characters were stereotypical and one dimensional, and when the film offers a reveal, it just seemed like a lame excuse on trying to figure a way to end the film. I think with the Saw franchise, Darren always felt the need to try and outsmart the audience and come up with a clever twist, this film felt like Darren was just painting by the lines and then in the final twenty minutes went to the Saw playbook. The character of Richard was so poorly written that you watch this descent into paranoia that is never explained to us, and we are here to assume that this behavior has either never happened before or happened so much the family ignores it at first. Midpoint of the film he starts to abuse his wife, and then later his kids and when they start to tell us what is causing this and why, it is just utter ridiculous. How many of you guys put on a film and you realize the film is pretty bad, but you decide to tough it out just to see how it all ends up, because you feel you invested so much time into it so far, you may as well continue and finish? That is how I basically felt watching this film; I knew after twenty or so minutes that it may not get any worst so I may as well see where this is going and what happens when it gets there. There is a scene here and there of gore, you really never see any kills unless you count shooting someone. You get the Saw like leg break that of course the person will try to fix themselves. This film tries so hard to really be effective and draw you in, but it just lacks substance.
All in all, the film felt like a film you would expect from a newcomer, not someone who has been around and has a body of work. I would not say avoid the film, because who knows some people may be big True Blood fans and just like the film because you get to see him a lot. Other than that, I think everyone else will want to skip this film.
4 out of 10