Directed by Eric Pham
A family are plagued by death when the mother intercepts a chain cursed by a murdered Native American witchdoctor. After she succumbs to the chain’s power, the curse looks to infect more victims within the neighbourhood as two warring siblings must work together to unite their family during their grief.
I first came across FLAY a month or so ago when they successfully won the right to release their film. It was reported that Sony had issue with FLAY due to the use of the Slender Man character in the movie which wouldn’t have sat well with their 2018 Slender Man release. Regardless, it all got sorted in the end, and FLAY finally got its release earlier this month.
Having seen Always Watching: A Marble Hornets Story and enjoyed their interpretation of the Slender Man story, I was keen to see what FLAY had to offer on the subject but was vastly underwhelmed. Slender Man has no reason to be in this movie and I’m puzzled as to why he’s been made the villain of the film when it’s clearly the Native American. The only reason, from my point of view, that Slender Man has been included is to gain interest from fans of the Creepy Pasta boogeyman meme who are expecting something that isn’t delivered.
The story of FLAY instead is about the strained relationship between teenage boy River and his older sister Moon, with River resenting his sister for leaving him to cope with their junkie mother Patricia. It appears life has been tough for the youngster and he’s not for forgetting his abandonment in a hurry, even if they do have to deal with their mother’s death. A cursed chain, that their mother stole and hid in a tin can in the garage, seems to entice people and lure them to their death by merely having it on their person or in the vicinity. With Patricia having inserted it into her artwork, the house itself is plagued whilst River’s girlfriend seems to fall prey to its alluring charm in the garage. How, in fact, the chain speaks to people is beyond me and this is only presumptuous that it does do this as how else would a character, who’s never set foot in the garage before, decide to look for it behind a row of tins?
Like most things about this movie, very little makes sense and instead it acts more as a slow-burning cat-and-mouse horror with slender man/spooky lady hunting down the victims whilst Moon and police officer Tyler attempt to rekindle their former relationship. I can’t even say the deaths are impressive because we’re not really shown much of them except for the supernatural creature grabbing them, attacking them or flooding their mind with nightmarish visions.
Whilst there’s some good performances from Elle LaMont as Moon, Johnny Walter as Tyler, Dalton E. Gray as River and even a small supporting role from Phantasm’s A. Michael Baldwin as family friend Billy, FLAY just doesn’t provide the horror that it promises. The curse angle could have been executed better if Slender Man wasn’t a part of it and also if the connection the villain has with its victims was more logical. Instead, the entire trail of death in its wake feels forced from nowhere.
Unfortunately, this is not a horror movie that leaves you fulfilled. It feels more like a churn-it-out type of supernatural teen horror despite there being moments of well-developed drama in between.