Chain Letter (18)
Running Time: 96 mins
Director: Deon Taylor
Writers: Deon Taylor, Michael J Pagan
Starring: Nikki Read, Keith David, Brad Dourif
Reviewed by: Matt Wavish, official HCF critic
Ten minutes into this film and you get the idea, this aint gonna get any better, but being a critic I had to endure it. For the sake of saving you fine folk from having to experience this rubbish, I have done it for you, so please, listen to my warning and save yourself a lot of pain. I will admit to being a little interested in this, I mean for starters it has Brad Dourif in it so it can’t be THAT bad, can it? Oh, and it also has a very good looking cast, especially with Nikki Read and Cherilyn Wilson, and it does have a vicious killer.
Expectations were average I guess, but I honestly expected much much more than what I got. A silly horror trying to be cool and clever by tapping in to today’s culture of mobile phones and computers. Hell, it even has Brad Dourif as a teacher explaining the dangers of today’s technology, and how no one has any ‘me time’ anymore as everything is monitored. The moaning old fart is just stuck in his past and doesn’t want to accept how the kids of today have changed. So, the story follows a group of friends who spend more time on their phones than actually making eye contact with each other during conversations, and a chain letter email is sent to Rachel Conners’ (Wilson) geeky, cross eyed brother. During an argument, she see’s the chain email and decides to muck about with her brothers computer, prompting him to get very angry. See, the poor lad is already in a bad mood since his sister told his Mum that he masturbates, so this really pushes him over the edge. In anger he does something awful, vicious and horrible (I am being sarcastic by the way) he forwards the blasted chain email to his sisters friends! Oh on, what the Hell are they gonna do now, they will be met with the dilemma of forwarding it or deleting it, damn! All jokes aside, it seems it aint that simple, for if you delete the email then you will end up dead. Great pitch, terribly delivered.
The opening scene of a girl tied to her parents two cars give an indication of the desperation this film shows, and its unwilling to push things into really dark territory. As the parents leave for work, it tries to build up a suspense of will they or wont they tear her apart, and the finale to it is a bit crap really. As is the film. One death, very nicely, involves this right moody fuck of a character having a chain wrapped around his face, and then his face crushed to pieces. It looks really good, until the camera films from a different angle and his face is fine!! Bad bad editing. And to make things even worse, when the police find him the daft woman cop states “his teeth are smashed” then something else, which I forget now, and she ends with “his face is destroyed”. Your damn right it’s destroyed, it was torn of you silly woman!! Oh, the script is just dire. Witness the detective heading up the investigation and gatrecrashing a funeral for Mr Smashed Face, told to literally ‘bugger off’ by parents, he leaves the youngsters with this important message “call me…, or email me”.
I could go on, but it hurts to even think about it. What we get is all the friends coming under attack by a supposedly mystery killer, but if you haven’t guessed the killer from the second he/she appears on screen, then shame on you. It is so blatant it’s like the mystery was aimed at children. And what makes it worse is the films sorry attempt to throw you off the scent. This is poorly made, although surprisingly well produced. The story just doesn’t grip, the pacing is all off and the acting is mostly pretty dire. The violence is usually pretty tame, with the camera choosing to pan away at the best bits, and the odd moment of promised nudity is again spoilt because it never actually happens. Empty promises, that’s what this film is all about. And not that this will ruin things, but when one of the characters has a brain wave, a Eureka moment about how to stop the killing, it is drummed into the viewer over and over and you feel like sending your own chain email to the director with some sort of device attached to it that will explode his computer and hopefully take him with it!!