Horrorfest '08: Perkins' 14 (US - DVD R1)
And just like that Gabe's Horrorfest '08 experience went into the crapper...
Dwayne Hopper (Patrick O’Kane) is a small town cop with a major chip on his shoulder. Several years ago Hopper’s son was kidnapped along with thirteen other children, and was never recovered. On the tenth anniversary of the first abduction a strange man named Ronald Perkins (Richard Brake) is taken into Hopper jail for a traffic problem. Hopper is rubbed the wrong way by Perkins, and eventually figures out that the unassuming man may be the serial kidnapper that took his son. Things get worse from there.
The Perkins’ 14 box art is a giant lie. It looks like some kind of early ‘70s Spanish throw-back. In reality it’s a very modern film that wants to recall a half dozen other modern films. It’s starts as low rent Silence of the Lambs, spends a couple minutes as low rent CSI, a couple more as a low rent Friday the 13th, then it spends its final half as a low rent mix of 28 Days Later and Night of the Living Dead. The first half kind of works, even if we’ve seen it done better before, and it sets up a semi-interesting second half, but the proverbial ball is dropped hard. There’s some decent gore, but the story becomes a huge mess.
What Perkins’ 14 lacks in cohesion it makes up for with very realistically drawn characters and dialogue. Actually, no, I take that back, the situations, the characters and dialogue start the film somewhat realistically, then everyone starts making really stupid choices, and they start speaking like they're written by children. It’s too bad things never really come together plot-wise, and that the characters devolve into mongloids, because the other things could’ve added up to a solid cheapo thriller. Decent idea, decent production, not so decent storytelling.
Perkins’ 14 features another average video presentation for the new Horrorfest set. The transfer is pretty grainy (and even features a few slices of artefact), but it doesn’t appear that any DVD mastering compression has taken its toll, rather, it appears that this was shot on a budget, possibly not using the most up to date equipment. The film’s also shot in a very gritty fashion, so the less than overwhelming clarity is forgivable. There are times when the lighting is too low to tell what’s going on, but I seriously doubt high definition video would make a difference in this case. There also isn’t a lot of colour to speak of in the mix, but the gradation is pretty smooth, and considering the low-light things are pretty natural. Every disc in this set features the same problem with two or more lines cutting across the frame, but these are only really visible when thin lines of extreme contrast cross the frame, specifically with the closing credits.
From the opening titles Perkins’ 14 has a standout soundtrack. The best themes repeat too often, but still exude originality and top notch menace. The music is the Dolby Digital track’s only impressive element. The super low budget nature of the rest of the production leads to mostly centred, dynamically flat dialogue and a few effects. The effects that do find their way into the surround and stereo channels are so stylized they might as well be score.
Besides the usual trailers and Ms. Horrorfest Webisodes, Perkins’ 14 features some making-of webisodes all its own. Despite the music video quality of these little productions, the behind the scenes information is actually pretty interesting. Apparently the production went out of their way to hire amateurs to write the story and star in the film, sort of like a sweepstakes, and these webisodes chronicle the process.
If you’re looking for an After Dark Horrorfest entrée that mimics 28 Days Later check out last year’s Mulberry Street instead. The rat-zombies may be silly, but they’re framed by a much more interesting and entertaining plot. Still, the latest Horrorfest was weak enough that this is one of the more substantial entries.
Review by Gabriel Powers
Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian
Release Date: 31st March 2009
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Extras: Miss Horrorfest Webisodes, 10 Making-Of Webisodes
Easter Egg: No
Director: Craig Singer
Cast: Gregory O'Connor, Patrick O'Kane, Katherine Pawlak, Shayla Beesley, Mihaela Mihut
Length: 95 minutes
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