Saturday 3 November 2012



Before the screening - the closing film of this year's FrightFest allnighter - there were ugly rumours going around that this "based on true events" shocker was yet another Found Footage movie, and I make no secret of the fact that had it been true I'd have walked away and got the early train home. Indeed, I'm perversely proud of this: the genre's limited bag of tricks has long run dry and I've already refused to watch Paranormal Activity 4 because of this shoddy and tedious pretence, and I've also cleared my rental queue of camcorder-based dullness. As it turns out, this one isn't "found" after all (despite what it says on the film's Wikipedia page and what it looks like from the trailer and the official website), but sadly it's not significantly better or scarier or more interesting for all its adherence to traditional film-making techniques.

The Helpers doesn't start off particularly well, with a van load of bellowing imbeciles (one of whom has a camcorder which somewhat improbably shoots in a 2.35 ratio) breaking down on the desert road to Las Vegas. While the girlies stay with the van, the boys head off to find help and - rather than the obvious murderous sociopath you'd expect - finds a garage and diner full of people only too glad to help out, at no charge, drinks on the house, and to put them up for the night as well. Very helpful, very hospitable, until the following morning when the kind and considerate folks reveal themselves as barking lunatics with a fondness for recreating that bit from The Hitcher where Jennifer Jason Leigh is tied between two trucks....

Despite some nicely unpleasant moments (the film is essentially Vacancy with a touch of Saw) it doesn't really hang together, with a pretty tortuous explanation (and frankly implausible motivation) for the maniacs' actions, no characters worth really caring about, and a silly moment towards the end when, having gained the upper hand over their tormentors, our surviving heroes then run off into the darkness rather than getting into the truck that's sitting right next to them. No-one really expects homicidal DTV slasher movies to make watertight sense anyway, but we appreciate the attempt. In the end it's not absolutely terrible, but it doesn't come close to breaking the unspoken rule of thumb that any film beginning with a busload of young idiots on a road trip is more than likely going to stink.


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