Never Open The Door (2014) Review

notd1Never Open the Door (2014)
Starring: Jessica Sonneborn, Deborah Venegas, Kristina Page
Writers: Christopher Maltauro & Vito Trabucco
Director: Vito Trabucco

Out Now – On Demand & DVD / BluRay in North America

Three happy couples enjoy the holidays in a cozy secluded cabin in the woods when they are suddenly interrupted by an unprecedented event that will forever change their lives.

I have to disagree with the synopsis above. The three couples are not happy. And they don’t appear to be enjoying their holiday. In the opening scenes they are presented as bitter and argumentative. They are the sort of people who you hope will suffer miserably before the end of the movie. Fortunately, something malicious is rushing toward the house and we keep our fingers crossed that its malevolent intentions will be wrought upon the aforementioned not-so-happy couples. We see the world from this entity’s feral perspective and we know, whatever it is, it means business.

So, we have the ‘cabin in the woods’ format of a horror story, with a cast of repellent disposables and a burgeoning (but as yet unidentified) threat. However, whilst this may sound like something that’s been done a million times before, Never Open the Door manages to throw out some wonderful surprises and it’s a movie that is well worth investigating.

notd4I’ll offer a couple of caveats before I continue. I didn’t think the dialogue was particularly strong. Verbal exchanges between main characters repeatedly fall into shouted and unimaginative repetition. However, whilst I think this is a valid criticism of the film, I should also add, if I was ever suffering through a real-life ‘cabin in the woods’ horror, I suspect my dialogue would likely be shouted, unimaginative and repetitive. I’m also tempted to say the acting was a little wooden but that interpretation could have been a knock-on effect caused by the previously mentioned script/dialogue issues.

The opening scene is dominated by Luke (Mike Wood, Chupacabra Territory, Bloody Bloody Bible Camp and Vamps in the City). Boorish Luke sits at the head of the table, shouting over other conversationalists and genuinely making things uncomfortable for his wife, Maria (Deborah Venegas, The Haunting of Alice D, Bloody Bloody Bible Camp and What Goes On). He also makes things uncomfortable for Angel (Kristina Page, The Haunting of Alice D, Piranha Sharks and Crack Whore) and Isaac (Matthew Aidan, Bloody Bloody Bible Camp, Pain is Beautiful and Dead Season). Meanwhile, at the same table, Terrance (George Troester, No Ordinary BJ, Crack Whore and Rock in a Hard Place) is making things uncomfortable for Tess (Jessica Sonneborn, One Night of Fear, Dog Eat Dog and The Haunting of Alice D). It’s all delightfully uncomfortable and a guilty part of me is gleefully hoping that some (or all) of these unlikeables are going to meet the nasty and grim conclusion they deserve.

notd3And so, when someone knocks at the door, and Tess goes to answer it, the story immediately goes into full-horror mode. Clearly Tess hasn’t read the title of the movie (Never Open the Door), because she opens the door. And, after the initial shock of a stranger arriving and inciting mayhem amongst the sextet, the story moves away from the predictable and begins to explore some new and very interesting territory. Never Open the Door is filmed in black and white and, at 64 minutes running time, it is longer than a short but shorter than a feature. And all of this works for the movie. The brevity allows it to have a swift pace and leave the audience breathless. The absence of colour allows for Vito Trabuco’s direction (Bloody Bloody Bible Camp, Slices and Watch the Pretty Girls Suffer) to play with light and darkness to profound and unsettling effect.

Because of its brevity, I won’t say anything more about the plot or the surprises that populate the narrative. What I will say is, Never Open the Door has some genuinely unsettling moments and a plot twist that I’m still trying to comprehend two days after watching. If you want to see something different from the ‘cabin in the woods’ format, you need to watch Never Open the Door: 8/10.

Sin aka Bloody Bloody Bible Camp (2012) DVD Review

 

SIN 001SIN aka BLOODY BLOODY BIBLE CAMP (2012) DVD

Review by: Dave Wain

Stars: Reggie Bannister, Tim Sullivan, Ron Jeremy, Jeff Dylan Graham

Written by: Shelby McIntyre, Vito Trabucco

UK Certification: 18

UK RRP: £9.99

UK DVD Region: 2

Runtime: 87 minutes

Directed by: Vito Trabucco

UK Release Date: 5th May 2014

Distributor: Metrodome Group

It was the cast that brought you here wasn’t it? How could you resist? With Phantasm legend Reggie Bannister in the lead role (and producer), accompanied by a drool inducing line-up of genre icons such as Tim Sullivan (2001 Maniacs and Chillerama director), Ron Jeremy (FILF: Father’s I’d like to Fuck) and Jeff Dylan Graham (Dead & Rotting, Bad Movie Police), Sin on the face of it looked like a horror nerds wet dream.

SIN 002However, what Sin tries to add to the party is a heavy dose of Troma-esque gross out humour which as many of you will agree is an ingredient that’s balanced on the slimmest of tightropes with its descent into lame and embarrassing knob jokes never too far away. The movie itself though plays the clever card of setting itself in the 1980s, thus having the perpetual background of a knowing homage to 80s cheese. We begin however in 1977 at the Happy Day Bible Camp with the immortal line “Jesus probably had a big penis”, before we witness all the residents of the camp unsympathetically butchered by a cruci-knife wielding nun.

Fast forward to 1984 and a new bunch of kids are on their way to good old Happy Day Bible Camp with Father Richard Cummings (Reggie Bannister) leading the way. It’s a typical eclectic collection of people, from the fat kid Timmy (Christopher Raff) to the satanic goth Betty (Elissa Dowling) to the jock Tad (Matthew Aidan) to the pure virginal blonde that all the boys lust after, Brittany (Jessica Sonneborn). A stop to a nearby convenience store fills them in on the history of the place the locals call Bloody Bloody Bible Camp and the vengeance wreaked by Sister Mary Chopper seven years prior, so the mood around the campfire on the first evening is a little apprehensive. The doom-mongering is swiftly forgotten though as the our chirpy group of campers set out to make the most of their religious excursion… but we all know that it’s only a matter of time before Sister Mary Chopper returns.

Poorly marketed in the UK by Metrodome as a straight up gruesome horror, Sin – or rather the vastly superior title Bloody Bloody Bible Camp (tagline: heaven is for everyone, except you) is far more rooted in comedic parody territory despite its regular lashings of extreme gore. Taking aim mainly at such iconic movies as Sleepaway Camp (1983) and Friday 13th (1980), it pitches itself perfectly between the two genres, whilst also giving us some fantastically satirical religious commentary that for me worked brilliantly.

SIN 003The cast of ‘teenagers’ despite their relative inexperience are all fine, with Reggie Bannister of course outstanding at Father Cummings. Weak points in the movie are relatively few, but following the brisk pre-credits sequence there’s a notable lull in proceedings where the movie struggles to gain some momentum. Also, as expected a few of the jokes fall a little flat but there are enough in the script of sparking genius that the occasional dud is wholly forgivable. Sin will undoubtedly be a bit of a marmite movie with the viewing public as a fusion of comedy (especially this style) and horror has the potential to be off-putting. For this reviewer however it was a perfect, trashy, hedonistic pick-me-up that certainly provided a much needed alternative to the mainstream.

6 out of 10