Monday, November 26, 2012

Starts okay, but it's all downhill after that

Perkins' 14 (2009)
Starring: Patrick O'Kane, Shayla Beesley, Richard Brake, Michale Graves, and Mihaela Mihut
Director: Craig Singer
Rating: Four of Ten Stars

Ten years ago to the day, 14 children vanished without a trace in the small town of Stone Cove, including Deputy Sheriff Dwayne Hopper's son. When the story told by a drunk driver (Brake) doesn't seem right to Dwayne (O'Kane), he inadvertently solves the mystery that's haunted him and the town for a decade... but in doing so unleashes a horror created by a madman bent on revenge.

"Perkins' 14" starts out strong, with a cast of characters that we can either relate to, or that viewers sense are either going to be heroes or murderers as the film unfolds, and a host of ominous mysteries that further hook and draw the audience in. The strength of the film's first act is such that it makes up for the excessively oppressive atmosphere that is present literally from the film's first frame.

But it doesn't last. The strong opening soon dissolves into a morass of lazy and downright bad writing, where characters do stupid things because of plot-dictates or rampant ignorance on the part of screenwriters when it comes to police procedure in the real world; where several of the mysteries presented in the film's beginning are left behind, mostly forgotten or resolved in a half-assed fashion; and where what was left of the early promise is swept away by a foolish and miserable finale.

An iron-clad truism about the horror genre is that a successful film starts with a strong script. No matter how many jump-cuts or gory scenes of maniacs munching on the guts of their victims that is thrown at the audience, the crew can't cover fatal flaw of a bad script. And in the case of "Perkins' 14", it's a shame that more effort wasn't put into making the script better, because this could have been a really good movie... instead of one that consistently got worse until the end credits mercifully started rolling.

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