Director – Chris Shadley
Cast – Melissa Joan Hart, John Terry, Chip Bent, Lawrence Turner, Edrick Browne, John Cates, Marc Macaulay, Lucille Soong, James C. Victor, Daniel Baldwin, Joe Fredo
Release Year – 2010
Reviewed by John of the Dead
I came across this film randomly one night, and I can honestly say I watched this film solely because I saw that it stars Melissa Joan Hart. Yeah, “Sabrina the Teenage Witch”. A little bit of research led me to assume this was merely a “Saw” rip-off so I figured “well, maybe I’ll finally get to see her dismembered”. While this low-budget rip-off was heavily flawed I did find myself glued to the screen, which I could not believe myself. Normally films like this have me thinking “why the hell did I decide to watch this?”, but thanks to this film’s mystery plot, I was hooked.
This film follows nine strangers who have been kidnapped and thrown into a basement by a masked person. The person tells them they must figure out why each person is there. It is obvious all of the strangers are tied together somehow, but time is not in their favor because every ten minutes one of them will die until they figure out why each person is there.
Sound like “Saw” much? This film is not an exact replica of “Saw” mainly because there is no real torture nor any great gore, but it plays off of the same “live-or-die” mentality we get from the “Saw” franchise. This is really the only element that kept me into this film throughout it’s duration, but I’ll get to that later.
Like most low-budget films, this one is very simple. We start off watching each of the victim’s kidnappings, and from then on out we’re stuck in the basement with them for the remainder of the film. In a way I did like this because I am a fan of claustrophobic atmospheres, and nine people in a small basement fit’s the criteria. Unfortunately for this film though, it’s low-budget shows. The acting performances are horrid, even from a veteran like Melissa Joan Hart. She was not nearly as bad as some of the other actors, but I cannot say there was a single decent acting performance by any of the 10 main characters in the film. The killer was nothing special, just a guy in all black with a black mask. I did however enjoy how brash he was as far as killing those who’s turn it was after each ten minute interval. It didn’t matter how sorry they were, rules are rules, and I liked that.
What really surprised me was that despite this film’s low production value and horrible acting I never found myself drifting away from the watch. I thank the film’s storyline for this because anytime you throw in a mystery element, I am hooked. The development was top notch, and paced perfectly without ever slowing down or losing itself. Each kill is sufficient and every turn and twist was interesting and quite creative. I’ll give props to the film’s writer for making sense out of all the mess, it must have taken quite a bit of time to do so. I however cannot give him props for some of the horrible dialogue we received, sorry bud.
Now aside from the acting, dialogue, and other faults this film has, NOTHING is as horrible as the film’s climax. The ending sequence was a positive one in my opinion, but the end scene we got was horrid and as unsatisfying as ever. Don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of ambiguous endings but only when they work with the film and are executed properly. This film’s ambiguous ending was neither of those elements.
Overall, this is a mediocre film that had an interesting story but came accompanied with horrible acting and a poor production value. Fans of independent films may enjoy this, but I am sure most people will find themselves unsatisfied.