|Directed by:||Ty West|
|Written by:||Ty West|
|Cast:||AJ Bowen, Dee Wallace, Greta Gerwig, Jocelin Donahue, Mary B. McCann, Mary Woronov, Tom Noonan|
1980's horror is a thing that doesn't hold up relatively well today. Films made in the infamous era of leg warmers and afros don't hold up particularly well and, while a select few are still extremely good and affective, have become slightly cheesy as the years pass. However, seeing this director give audiences a sort of homage to the dated genre, I was (for some reason) onboard. I loved the idea of using out of date music, story elements and even camera shots to tell this particular horror story and even though I didn't live through the 80's, it brought a sort of happy nostalgia to it all.
Unfortunately, as much as I was looking forward to THOTD, it really just didn't work for me. On a technical level, the movie flourishes. As previously stated, the direction works perfectly and the director conveys exactly what he's trying to, as the film feels, looks, and sounds just like a horror movie from the 80's would right down to the opening credits and poster art. The acting is also pretty top notch as each character gives a likable and believable performance. It's good that the main character wasn't a whiny little bitch, like most characters found in horror movies of late. Her performance made her seem like a normal, likable college student making me worry about her well being and not counting down the seconds to her inevitable onscreen death. It should also be noted that Mr. Tom Noonan as Mr. Ullman is particularly creepy. He gives the film a much needed (and admittedly only source of) sense of dread and he delivers the goods and then some. I also (for the most part) really enjoyed the slow pace of the movie, as many don't follow that direction anymore.
As for the negatives, it really is frustrating because of how good the movie was in sections and how good it could've been overall. There's a vast amount of character development to be had here, and while I enjoyed most of it, there's many people that would see it as a monotonous droll through the main character's day. We literally follow this girl for a good fifty to sixty minutes walking around, doing chores and just hanging out. Now, while this could be a good thing, it definitely isn't. While the filmmakers (and screenwriters) should have been giving an emphasis on the suspense and the dread of what's going to happen, we get boredom. We have no idea what the hell is going to happen, but it's not like we think it's going to be necessarily bad. If someone were to walk into this not knowing it was a horror film, they would literally have no idea until the last 20 minutes or so. In movies like this, there should be some sort of buildup and all we get here is a whole lot of nothing and then a totally, out of left field mind fuck to make up for the boredom. Now all this would be just fine and dandy, however, the finale to the film literally comes out of nowhere and caught me so off guard that it wasn't exciting or scary---it was just kind of funny. Having something so serious and over-the-top happen at the snap of a finger after a long period of nothing made me laugh at the randomness. Without buildup, I had nothing to look forward to, and when it finally happened, I was already off board.
This isn't a terrible movie in the least and I can give it a slight recommendation to horror fans. The critics are loving it, but the pacing issues really killed it for me in the long run. I liked the technical aspect of it all and a few scenes get you to like the characters and catch you off guard with its brutality and terror, but in the end this is just another failed experiment in the wide field of horror. I respect the director, though, and all that he was trying to do and I sincerely hope to see more (and hopefully better) material from the man in the future.
Final Rating: 4 out of 10