Sunday, August 7, 2011

Stag Night (2008)

Modern day cavemen in NYC

This opens up with a bloodied woman running away from "something" in the terminal of a subway station only to be slaughtered with no one to hear her desperate cries for help. Now, four guys in the wee morning are celebrating a bachelor party at a strip joint when they get kicked out and head for another club by using the subway to get there. They catch two ladies on the train from earlier--one drunk and ditsy, the other confident and collected--and try to continue the party up until one of the woman gets fed up and uses pepper spray on the unruly brother of the polar opposite nice-guy bachelor. They all step off to clear their eyes, when suddenly the nonchalant operator takes off and leaves them stranded.

The terminal exits are locked, there's no cell phone reception and even if another train comes through it won't stop. Four of them head up the tracks on foot while a man and woman stay behind to get a little frisky--yes, the filmmakers went there, partial nudity to boot. Soon enough they realize they're in danger when three modern day cavemen looking vagabonds brutally kill a cop after he catches them raiding a vending machine. The villains end up being one-note savages who's stench alone could make one keel over, who are so dirty they look like they have permanent tans, who's obnoxious growls could make any wild beast run with tail between legs and who's skin is so greasy it could be bottled up to make everlasting Jheri curl solution. From what was initially just a time-killing mistake turns into a killer game of hide and seek till they can come up with a plan to get out safely, including manning and womanning up to fight back as these tunnel dwellers are far from lethargic pushovers looking for a handout but skilled warriors that like to taunt their opponents for the challenge. Now, it's explained that their situation and the groom to be have a coincidental connection in that bachelors some ages ago would be sent out for the night to hunt a stag to prove they could survive the test and provide for their families.

"Stag Night" doesn't even try to be great. The acting is adequate if not award winning. It's more unintentionally funny in some areas than scary despite some foreshadowing and other sections that attempt to stack tension. It uses excessively frantic camera shots to translate the action and fight scenes, but instead cause more hangovers than palpitating hearts. Sometimes the music seems independent from the film with attempted build ups to translate an atmosphere that seems nonexistent. This is a purist horror film that relies heavily on conventions down to the finish line--though one that tries and keeps up and falls short of even breaking through the ribbon. But let's face it this is a one-off movie for rowdy group gatherings that everybody can half pay attention to or wildly talk over, as other classics have been outlined better, came with more interesting characters, had villains that were more mysterious and menacing, or just included more inventive death scenes even though this does produce some decent blood shed and gore. On one hand you can count on it but on the other there's not going to be a ton of things to write home about afterwards. One thing in its credit is the story is pretty straightforward, which isn't always a bad thing as it had its share of plotholes but didn't get entirely confusing or overly ambitious. It sticks to its tried-and-true guns, even if those guns are somewhat dull and worn thin.

Rating: 3/10

Director: Peter A. Dowling (writer "Flightplan")
Stars: Kip Pardue, Vinessa Shaw, Breckin Meyer
Link: IMDB

10 things to learn from "Stag Night":

10. New York looks awfully like Bulgaria.
9. Cell phones have to be explained in every modern horror movie.
8. Brothers don't always look or sound alike.
7. Neanderthals never went extinct.
6. Strippers read.
5. Mannequins watch TV too.
4. Women fall for the nice guy, not the jerk--right.
3. Kids aren't so cute.
2. Never let your guard down before the finish line.

And the most obvious one of all:
1. Never step off a train before your destination.

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