This shot-on-video exercise in teen terror wastes a good premise with amateurish moviemaking.
Sissy (Tina Ona Paukstelis), Will (Matthew Winkler), and Eddie (William Krekling), unpopular students at their high school, are invited by John (Christopher D. Harder), leader of the popular crowd, to be part of a movie project in which they will be "sacrificed." Despite their misgivings, the trio
follows John and his friends into some nearby woods; once they've been tied to trees, however, John fatally stabs Eddie for real. Two passers-by interrupt the group and pay with their lives, but Sissy and Will are able to escape, killing two of John's gang along the way, and flee to a nearby
house. The couple who live there also falls victim to John and company, and Sissy and Will run to another house--only to find that its owner, Piper (Karen Dilloo), is in league with John.
Sissy flees the house with John and Piper in pursuit, and is accidentally run down by Stephen (Sy Stevens), another student. After killing John's henchman, PJ (Javier Rivera), Will is picked up by Stephen and taken back to the latter's house, where John and Piper turn up for a final confrontation.
Will strangles John while Piper escapes, never to be seen again. Later, Will reflects on how Sissy and Eddie became more popular in death than they ever were in life.
"This movie sucks," reads a scrawled message on a blackboard in an early scene, and despite the good creative intentions of writer-director Jason Paul Collum, one can't help but agree. The story (reportedly based on true incidents) retains a trace of emotional power, but the movie is so poorly
directed that it loses almost all of its resonance. Scenes and individual shots are held way too long, the framing is frequently off, cuts to black (and white) are used far too often, and the violence is ineptly staged (at one point, a neck-breaking sound effect is actually done vocally). Shooting
the first hour or so during a snowy winter adds some atmosphere, but the effect is completely blown when the last act plays against a backdrop of lush lawns and leafy green trees.
There is much functional dialogue about teenage social concerns, and the movie clearly wants to make a statement about high school popularity a la HEATHERS (1989) or CARRIE (1976) (the lead characters are even named after the cast of the latter film), but it's all so heavy-handed that little of it
registers. The movie was executive-produced by video distributor Michael J. Moore, which explains the lengthy excerpt from DERANGED (1974), his company's release; reflecting either unbridled ego or misplaced creative pride, Moore's name appears at least a dozen times in the opening and closing
credits. (Graphic violence, adult situations, nudity, profanity.)
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- Released: 1997
- Rating: NR
- Review: This shot-on-video exercise in teen terror wastes a good premise with amateurish moviemaking. Sissy (Tina Ona Paukstelis), Will (Matthew Winkler), and Eddie (William Krekling), unpopular students at their high school, are invited by John (Christopher D. H… (more)