No spooky plans for Friday the 13? Apparently director Ti West figured as much, so he’s put together a good little throwback horror flick to creep you out – .
Samantha is a college student, and she needs money. She’s moving out of the dorm away from her slob roommate and into a cute little house with reasonable rent. The landlady seems nice enough; she’s waving all of the deposits as long as Samantha pays the first month’s rent the next week. Samantha is still a couple hundred dollars short so when she sees a flyer for a babysitting job, she decides to call.
Upon arrival at the house, the man who put out the flyers explains he has not been entirely honest. There is no kid to babysit, but the job is just as easy: 400 dollars for four hours. It’s just too good to pass up.
The thing about Ti West’s film that sets it apart from other horror films is how well it nails the time period. takes place in the ‘80s, and he lets you know it. It has the big hair, the high-fitting jeans and cassette players, but it’s not just what he’s filming that makes it so ‘80s, it’s how he films it.
The opening credits will likely make most viewers doubt that this was filmed within the past year. The somewhat grainy footage and the choices West makes on the camerawork will have you convincing yourself that this movie has been sitting on a shelf somewhere for a couple of decades.
The great thing about all of this is how well it suits the movie. The simplicity of the plot and direction give that innocence that so many ‘80s movies seem to possess. And it’s important to note that it is not a parody; not once does West poke fun at the ‘80s style, but instead genuinely uses it to enhance the story.
Unfortunately, though, the film does make some missteps. For one, this is not your thrill-a-minute movie. is a slow builder, which works in some ways and fails in others. It works in creating tension and strengthening the connection between the viewer and the protagonist.
At the same time, it causes the film to drag, especially once Samantha is without anyone to interact with.
The film performs a miraculous feat of being a little interesting, a little scary and a little boring all at once. But I definitely give it more praise than criticism because I think it is an interesting choice by the director to do something so deliberate and plodding.
Furthermore, as though to apologize and say, “Thanks for sticking with me. Here’s a token of my appreciation,” West ratchets up the intensity and violence really quickly for the film’s finale.
The dichotomy of the creepy but slow middle section of the film with the urgent and shocking ending makes for a satisfying experience.
The acting is solid throughout. Jocelin Donahue is great as Samantha, and Greta Gerwig is terrific as Samantha’s best friend Megan. Tom Noonan, however, steals the show as the creepy and awkward Mr. Ullman. His dialogue is delivered so perfectly that just his desperate way of talking sets up the uneasiness for the rest of the film.
was recently released in theaters, but sadly is not showing in Atlanta. You can still check it out on Video on Demand, amazon.com, and Xbox Live.
If you’re not a fan of ‘80s suspense or horror this likely isn’t going to convert you, but it’s definitely recommended for those who miss those retro scares.