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Yet another dim dumb teen slasher movie which shows no sign of logic, plausibility or common sense, but displays every sign that the makers have sat and watched every instalment of Saw and Final Destination and thought "we can do that". Well, it turns out you can't as the end result is by turns dull, stupid and sadistically unpleasant - a charge you could level at a hundred perfectly serviceable teen slashers - but it never combines to an even faintly satisfying whole.
The Chain Letter of urban legend (pass it on to five other people for good luck) is now a threatening email: forward it to five other people or you will die horrible. And anyone who ignores or deletes it does indeed die gory and painfully. Who could be behind it? Detectives Keith David and Betsy Russell plod along ineffectually through the crime scenes but their only clue would appear to be the numbers stamped on the metal chains found at the scene of each splattery death. Then there's the clearly suspicious college media lecturer played by Brad Dourif in an inspiried moment of casting that can have gone no further than "we need a creepy old guy - is Brad Dourif busy?"
The casting of Betsy Russell from five of the Saw movies isn't the only clue to the movie's origins: while most of the kills are down to your basic generic homicidal maniac, one victim does pass in a blatantly Jigsaw-inspired trap in a typically Sawesque meat packing plant. Elsewhere there are slashed tendons, an engine block dropped on someone's head and a particularly vicious opener involving someone chained between two cars. The gore is upfront (it's an 18) and it looks far better than the usual CGI splatter: either the computer effects capability has improved dramatically (unlikely) or they went for prosthetics because they're better.
But it's another one of those films where the mad killer is entirely omniscient and knows precisely when the victim is going to be in the exact position required: the attack via a skylight demands that the doomed teen idiot walk underneath it at some point, otherwise it rather leaves the hook-wielding killer standing on the roof all night like a dick. There's also the unlikely streak of paranoid technophobia: we're all tracked by our phones and Blackberrys and emails and credit cards etc, but who's using all this information and why? Sadly, the cautionary message is shackled - literally - to a dumb slasher flick mainly concerned with gruesome kill shots.
All the teens are pretty but bland and colourless and have no personality to them so the only appeal left is the splattery gore scenes. Granted, it's put together reasonably well on a technical level but ultimately it's just not any good and frankly that's not acceptable. We should expect, we should demand, better than this. The rental shelves and queues are already heaving with horror films that aren't any good and there's no virtue in just adding to the oceans of sludge genre fans already have to contend with. Even nonsensical thicko bodycount quickies should - and can - be better than this.