Friday, July 19, 2013

Have Gun. Go Sniper: The Anniversary At Shallow Creek (2011)

The Anniversary at Shallow Creek
Rating: **1/2
starring: Katharine Brandt, Annie Burgstede, Anthony Campanello

Sometimes, it's just best not to fix what's not broken.

Not that I have anything against changing the formula, but sometimes, for a slasher film to work at its best, it must learn to abide with the pattern as much as possible to keep us grounded, all the while try to exhibit something particularly new without the cost of the overall effectiveness of the film.

The Anniversary at Shallow Creek starts with a couple readying out for a date when a lone sniper shot one of them through the head, forcing the other to run back inside the house. What she wasn't expecting was that a masked hoodlum is waiting for her inside with a knife, stabbing her to death before posing her upright with her dead boyfriend and taking a photograph of their kill.

We then go forward to a year later, in the anniversary of the opening murder. (as the title suggested) A group of youngsters decided to join two of their buds to a weekend stay over an uncle's cabin, a break from all their studying. Things went on smoothly as planned, despite some odd locals (there's always one in these kind of movies) and a random kid befriending them almost immediately; the gang was happy with booze, BB guns and a bonfire that night, and it would have been until one of them got shot through the head with a sniper. Turns out whoever killed those two from before is back for more, and they'll be picking off the kids one by one in a deadly game of cat-and-mouse.

The premises for The Anniversary at Shallow Creek is nothing new as a slasher movie; kids go to isolated cabin, presumably pissed off some locals, kids have fun, killer arrives and murders one of them, then goes to panic, people going into survival mode, chaos ensues to a gambled conclusion. What was different here is that the killer uses a sniper in most of their killings, an idea rarely tackled in a slasher movie since TAG: The Assasination Game, a campus bodycount film which features a killer with an obsession for a shoot-out game. It would have been an interesting take for the basic set-up, but the film suffers through with some distracting flaws that watered down an otherwise familiar yet fun film.

The first act wallows around for a good forty minutes, so expect some pacing issues and a lot of scenes where the gang is shown being friendly with another. Not all in all a bad thing, it did made these cast interesting and somewhat likable despite the average acting, but when the first kill happens, and everyone is in full panic mode, things goes to a similar path where some kids do stupid things that had them ending up killed, and this went on until the hour mark. Around those times, the murders are actually quite good; they're tension-filled as the killer somehow managed to find a way to keep them inside the house most of the time and have them murdered after a stalk or two, and the blood works looked realistic enough, though some of the effects does show the budget of the film.

Things were fine, albeit tedious, until the last act finally came in, a dividing factor for me as to whether this is going to be a overall acceptable movie or not. Without revealing much, the killer had the remaining teens drugged and forced to play a game where they had to kill one another to make a point. Whatever that point was, it's completely lost from my end, as this last act became a complete chore for me to watch since it fails to be as shocking as it sounds. In the end, some twists is revealed, something I've seen far ahead, and left us wondering what exactly is this movie about from the beginning? The marketing of this film claims its based on true events, but of which is beyond me.

The Anniversary at Shallow Creek does stray away from the basics slasher film conventions and clich├ęs, but it somehow lost most of its energy thanks to its direction and some of the attempted original takes on the sub-genre. While some of it obviously worked, the rest is really nothing more than the same kind of twists and turns we'd seen a couple of times before. It's a shame, really, I was really enjoying the film, but I guess as the the director's first (and so far only) feature length debut, they had to start off somewhere rocky. Worth a rent if you're willing to, just don't expect too much coming from it.

1 male shot through the head with sniper
1 female knifed to death
1 male shot through the head with sniper
1 female throat cut with kitchen knife
1 female shot through the head with sniper
1 male neck cut with scalpel
1 male stabbed on the chest with kitchen knives
1 female shot through the chest with sniper
total: 8

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