Monday, October 3, 2011

Perkins' 14 (2009)

Giving some more rest for the wicked

This is a film that turns the tables around with an over-the-top revenge plot for the villain, except the large majority of the perspective is focused on the side of a small group of innocent characters. Essentially the tone of the picture is not necessarily going to show progress as it builds, as its steps leading up are going to crumble and the atmosphere is to turn bleak with less and less light at the end to reach for. If that gives you an idea of where this is going and how every other horror film in the last bunch of years has decided to wrap up its finale similarly, then "Perkins' 14" is going to be a film for the people who watch the credits with depression or a momentary scare that lasts about as long as your emotions might turn into feeling duped.

A deputy for the Sheriff's department named Dwayne Hopper had a son that was abducted 10 years ago along with 13 others in Stone Cove, Maine with the perpetrator never being caught. He greets his wife and daughter goodbye before heading out to what he thinks is just another day of work, except this one is going to be different, much, much different. A man is in lock up by the name of Ronald Perkins that has a few clues that match up to the prior disappearance cases. He does some fact checking on Perkins' story and it doesn't add up, though he's been so obsessed about it that no one wants to listen anymore. Perkins is a friend of the town judge and he's to be let out immediately despite his protests. Before doing so, he has the other off duty deputy check his place of residence only to find a secret passage in his basement and accidentally cause the violent and blood thirsty inhabitants to escape onto the town. Hopper goes to save his daughter and wife and meets his son Kyle who's now an unreasoning killing machine made that way--the film only hints at how that's possible--by Perkins due to his own parents getting killed and wanting revenge on Stone Cove.

This frequently plays on the dramatic with a father who doesn't want to let go, as if it happened just yesterday, so there are going to be a number of flashbacks to show how his life got ripped in two. This definitely works in the beginning by establishing some emotional attachment to their situation. Though when the action starts to heat up, the film jumps in and out of pushing the pacing forward. Instead of a continual charge of a survival film, it plays more on the melodramatic with the characters fumbling around and feeling bad for themselves. This uses part of the basic formula where creatures are attempting to overrun an area and it's up to a certain group of individuals to get out or take care of the problem--except here it's not always capitalized on. It also becomes disappointing that the rest of the town's people aren't focused on but that you're stuck with this dedicated and sympathetic but ultimately inept family.

This uses a little more drama to escalate the emotions of the story instead of going in cold and calculated or half-cocked to take care of the problem. The issue is the characters are possibly too real and less cinematic to make this exceptional case gripping. I mean, if you have part of the solution a suspension of disbelief--victims turned killing machines--why not exaggerate the other portion as well? They make one long series of bad choices and it can make one less likely to go with the flow than to yell at the screen to do something right. This ends with nothing to show for itself, which in this case pulls down the rest of the picture with so much investment in the wrong areas, leaving relating points or even a cold, hard message from achieving impact. To me taking a worthwhile risk that holds up even on repeat viewings would be doing something bold that everyone's aware but don't have the audacity to do. I see this less as being brave from taking a risk than a film with no constructive ideas in mind at that point to close on. The premise is no doubt thought through from an idea that was voted on from an online site contest to make into a horror movie. Though another scriptwriter took over and had to do the job in a speedy fashion due to the next After Dark Fest coming up and that shows in areas.

Some of the filmmaking mechanics aren't perfect with some overextended scenes and not always the best camera angles, though this does include some areas that are able to create some mood and showcase the settings. The lighting is somewhat dark in areas, along with a strobe light effect and a shaky camera to make things somewhat jarrig to what's going on. There are some pretty gory scenes in the meantime to showoff the 14's superhuman strength and indestructible nature when getting attacked themselves. If the film was going to be about them, as the title suggests, it would have been a nice touch to get more inside their head, possibly show variety between them or show more of Perkins' interactions with them. If it's going to be a diabolical and evil film, then do so, instead of playing coy and then deciding at the last moment to do so. Otherwise that can bring down the respect and potential involvement/investment as a viewer. The premise is quite over-the-top to say the least, though the players do take it seriously and it gives it some potential even if a share of it was undeveloped and somewhat rushed.

Rating: 3.5/10

Director: Craig Singer (A Good Night to Die, Dark Ride)
Stars: Patrick O' Kane, Richard Brake, Shayla Beesley, Mihaela Mihut
Link: IMDB, original web video of Perkins' 14 by Jeremy Donaldson

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