Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Review: Bloody Homecoming (2012)

So, over on the message board Death Awaits, I'm taking part in a challenge/excuse to watch a whole ton of horror movies this October. The challenge: watch one horror movie a day, with half of them (sixteen) being first-time viewings. Annabelle last week was the first of my first-time viewings, and today I'm watching one that they all swear is even worse, because I'm crazy like that.

Bloody Homecoming (2012)

Not rated

A friendly word of advice for any would-be filmmakers: if you're making a horror movie (or hell, any kind of movie), don't put the word "bloody" in the title and then make a bad movie. If you do, then you've just handed every film critic in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Australia the easiest joke he or she didn't have to think of because it's so obvious. I'm American, and even I feel obligated to make that joke right now: Bloody Homecoming is bloody awful. It's not a horror movie, it's an unwitting parody of one, a terrible slasher whodunit with dire acting, no tension, bad music, a hopelessly derivative plot that doesn't do anything unique, way too much time devoted to padding and red herrings that create no real sense of mystery, and not even any good kills (the one thing that saved Blood Widow from being totally irredeemable). The fact that this film has some level of polish for a low-budget, direct-to-video slasher (IMDb says the budget was about $3 million) makes the whole affair even sadder, as it tells me that somebody on the set of this film knew what he or she was doing. While this film styles itself as a throwback to the "golden age" of slasher movies in the '80s, it does so in the worst possible ways, capturing all the cliches of that era's most forgettable movies and none of the qualities of its best.

Stop me if you've heard this one: three years ago, an attempt by a group of high school freshmen to sneak into the homecoming dance leads to one of them getting himself killed in a fire after trying to rape a girl in the theater closet. Three years later, the school is hosting its first homecoming dance since the tragedy, and the now-senior protagonists are all excited... until a man in a firefighter's uniform starts killing them one by one! Dun dun dun! Who's the killer? Is it the boy who died, back from the dead or having otherwise survived somehow? Is it his father, seeking revenge for the death of his son? Is it the creepy janitor? The equally creepy principal? One of the kids? Does any of it even matter? (Nah.) It all just goes through the motions, with no passion and nothing new brought to the table. Whereas this film thinks it's a throwback to cheesy '80s slashers, it actually has far more in common with the worst teen horror movies of the late '90s, the films that tried to copy the "hip" style of Scream without realizing that Scream's core was not its pop culture references, but its self-aware satire, its smart writing, and its great cast and characters. The only thing about the story that I can say genuinely surprised me was the reveal of who the killer was, if only because it came completely out of left field and had virtually nothing to do with the incident that opened the plot. Just as the rest of the story felt lazily stolen from other, better films, the ending felt like it was hammered out by the writers when they realized that they needed to end this film somehow, even if it meant completely disregarding all that came before it.

And the acting... God almighty, could the makers of this film find anybody who could act? Say what you will about the teen horror movies of the late '90s, but even they usually had professional TV actors who could at least remember the script. The cast of Bloody Homecoming, on the other hand, feels looted from a small-town high school's underfunded theater department -- that, or from the same town's community theater. All of them are hopelessly wooden, and I can swear that, in at least one scene, the lead actress forgets her line and pauses for a sec to remember it. I don't blame them, though, as their characters are all stereotypes -- the virgin, the jock, the slut, the bitchy cheerleader, the flaming gay guy, the usual. One character, the girl who was almost raped in the beginning, looks like she might be interesting, only to turn out to be the very first victim in the whole film. The actual killer looked menacing in her costume (spoiler alert: it was the principal's wife the whole time, jealous of his lecherous fascination with the female student bodies -- see what I mean about it having nothing to do with the opening?), but when the big reveal came, the actress playing the killer wasn't remotely up to the task of playing crazy. She hammed it up so badly that she was hilarious rather than the least bit menacing.

Also hilarious? The few kills that aren't simply boring. The makers of this film clearly didn't lack for money, so it's puzzling why, in a throwback to the gratuitously violent slasher films of the '80s, we get so little gore. There is bloodshed, with the killer using a baton sharpened into a stake that proves quite effective, but in all but a few of the kills, the film cuts away before it gets to the "good stuff". It's not like they were going for the slow, creeping tension of something like Halloween (the stalk-and-chase sequences here feel like afterthoughts), so this film really didn't have much beyond blood and gore to throw at the screen. One kill in particular, however, stands out as having made me almost fall out of my seat laughing -- the killer takes a balloon and stretches it over one kid's face until he suffocates. It's something I'd expect to see in a parody like Scary Movie, or at least a clown-themed slasher, not a movie that's otherwise too straight-faced for its own good.

Score: 1 out of 5

I should've listened. Lots of people warned me that this was a terrible movie, but they only piqued my curiosity and made me want to see it that much more. The three dollars I spent on this at the FYE bargain bin could've been better spent at the movie theater's arcade.

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