Studio: Breaking Glass Pictures
Director: Todd Johnson, Mike Campbell
Writer: Todd Johnson, Mike Campbell
Producer: Todd Johnson, Mike Campbell, Allison Vanore
Stars: Katherine Browning, Mike Campbell, Leah Verrill, Ashley Love, Tiffany Walker
Four female college students move into a house off campus where they become trapped by an evil entity known as a soul eater.
“4 Dead Girls: The Soul Taker” is the sort of movie that makes one regret choosing to review B movies, or in this case, F. Under normal circumstances, any sane mind would watch less than 20 minutes, promptly hit the stop button, and be thankful that a much larger bullet had been dodged. A film critic, on the other hand, is forced to wonder which is the worse punishment: having to suffer through another hour and change to finally make it end, or coming up with 650 words to write a full length review when “it sucks” would do just fine.
IMDB categorizes “4 Dead Girls” as both Horror and Comedy, but I would wager that Comedy was added after the fact so that the film’s laughable script, story, acting, and production value could be explained as intentional. To qualify for that dual citizenship, a horror film has to be deliberately funny, like “Gremlins,” “Army of Darkness,” “Shaun of the Dead,” or “Zombieland.” Nowhere does “4 Dead Girls” actually try to be comedic, clever, or tongue-in-cheek. It aims to be straight up horror and it ends up as amateurish and awful.
Four college girls played by four grown women from the Luke Perry School of Acting Outside One’s True Age Range move into a house off campus owned by creepy landlord Devlin Chito. By day, Chito is just a mustache and eyeglasses away from resembling every police artist sketch ever drawn of a suspected child molester. At night, Chito dons a $14.99 Grim Reaper robe from the Halloween Store and transforms into one of the least frightening horror villains ever as he plays with voodoo dolls and becomes a soul eater.
Chito is the sort of villain whose menace comes in the form of a slow and raspy muah-ha-ha-ha when the heroine futilely declares her resolve against evil or unsuccessfully attempts to kill him. The Final Girl is the sort of adversary whose virtue is established by constant references to her virginity, dinner prayers, and the way she treats the discovery of her roommate’s strap-on sex toy like it is an unstable stick of dynamite.
Trapped by a non-extant budget, the girls become trapped in their two bedroom, one story home for the duration of the movie. The viewer is trapped right along with them in a confined location that is as dull as it is cramped. “4 Dead Girls” tries livening things up with a couple of mostly clothed sex scenes. Remarkably, the movie cannot even make coitus exciting as brief shots of bare butt cheeks are as lacking in titillation as much as the rest of the film is lacking in scares, suspense, and entertainment.
Portraying a realistic character would have been a Sisyphean task for any of the actresses. The mixture of overacting and underacting suggests direction that had no chance of properly tempering the performances. Thanks to a drab screenplay, the roles were already birthed with one foot in the grave. Hammering the final nails into the coffin are special effects that prompt viewers to wince and suck air through their teeth at just how poor they really are.
Independent filmmaking is currently experiencing an unprecedented era of creative freedom. Ready access to professional grade cameras, laptop software suites, and digital distribution channels have battled back against interfering studios and commercial demands. Artists have been liberated to tell the stories that they want without giving in to compromise, yet they are still able to produce quality output that can find a wide audience. So when someone squanders such opportunity to pinch out pointless dreck such as “4 Dead Girls,” it makes one want to grab the filmmakers by the shirt collars and angrily ask, was your Hollywood dream really to create something like this? I cannot fathom a scenario where any viewer would consider investing even one minute in “4 Dead Girls” as time well spent.
NOTE: "4 Dead Girls" was previously titled “The Rental” and is known in the UK as “The Taken.”
Review Score: 0