Sunday, 10 March 2013



It's been a rotten week for the teen comedy horror film. First off we had the punishingly shoddy Love Bite, for which we're still waiting for refunds, a public apology and resignations from the idiots responsible, and now we have an Irish atrocity that makes Leprechaun look like A Nightmare On Elm Street, the film Stitches desperately wishes it was but in reality hasn't got a hope of being within pissing distance of Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare. Granted it's got some graphic gore and fountains of slow motion blood arcing prettily across the screen, but that doesn't give a movie a free pass for stupidity, repellent characters and tiresome teenage partying that just makes you want these shitbags to die that much quicker.

Stitches himself was a misanthropic, foul-mouthed clown accidentally killed while entertaining a bunch of evil brats at a birthday party; six years later he returns from the grave for an excessively bloody revenge at another party. Eventually, that is: first we have to sit through the usual tedious high school cliches with the bullying and secret crushes and dumb friends and sadistic teachers that are of absolutely no interest to anyone at all. Then we get endless footage of whooping cretins misbehaving at the party (Mum has fortuitously gone to a client meeting or some such contrivance) before Stitches does his thing and bumps the odious miscreants off.

The problem isn't just that they're all despicable yobs: teenagers aren't generally very interesting as horror movie leads. All the great horror films have gone for characters with a few years on them and therefore a little bit of history and depth: Alien, The Thing, the greatest films of Argento and Fulci, The Exorcist, Jaws, The Shining.... the list goes on. They're all about grown-ups. The teen-based horror movies that have worked (Halloween's a prime example) have usually made their young flesh reasonably likeable so it hurts when they get killed, and they keep the emotional soap opera blather to the bare minimum that's essential for the plot.

Not here. As with Love Bite, the writers appear to have confused "interesting character" with "acting like a dick". It's as if they've deliberately set out to reinvent the teen horror comedy by doing everything as wrongly as possible. Exciting and dynamic hero? Charismatic villain? Genuinely shocking moments? Plot that makes sense? Witty gags? Nope. Even with Stitches played by Ross Noble it's not funny, and even with absurdly liberal splashes of blood and body parts it's not scary. The gore is certainly lovingly done, with plenty of actual prosthetics and gloop (though augmented with CGI) but it has little impact beyond the visceral because we loathe the victims. Once the first hour or so of boredom is out of the way, and the kids start being killed, the film does liven up a little but it's such a painful plod to get to that point that it's honestly not worth the effort. I missed its FrightFest screening last year; I was watching the peculiar German SF/horror Errors Of The Human Body in the other screen instead and while that certainly wasn't a great film, it was far more intriguing and entertaining. This is just inexcusable.


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