Studio: Image Entertainment
Director: Brian C. Weed
Writer: Jake Helgren
Producer: Elizabeth Snoderly
Stars: Lexi Giovagnoli, Alex Dobrenko, Randi Lamey, Branden Lee Roth, Taryn Cervarich, Elizabeth Bigger, Shaleen Cholera, Jesse Ferraro, Steve Earnest, Rae Latt, Grainne McDermott, Jim Tavare
Three years after a student dies in a fire at the Homecoming dance, a masked killer stalks the teenagers responsible.
The melting pot of teens and teachers at Winston High School covers all the requisite bases. The group of friends at the center of “Bloody Homecoming” consists of the class president, a cheerleader, the star quarterback, a chubby goth, and other clashing stereotypes that make their convenient union more than a little suspect. If the multi-racial ethnicities are not enough to tell everyone apart, each person also has a unique hair color and style to keep the players distinguishable whenever characterizations fail to do the trick. That diversity becomes a problem when “Bloody Homecoming” overstuffs its roster with too many characters to keep the straightforward story light and simple.
Billy Corbin finds himself locked in the Theater department’s costume closet after his grabby paws become too aggressive for his Homecoming date Annie Morgan, and her best friend Loren comes to Annie’s rescue. Once he knocks over a candle, a fire rages out of control, and Billy’s friends are too late to save him from the blaze. Three years later, Winston High has healed enough from the tragedy to finally host another Homecoming dance for the students. Except that an uninvited guest wearing a fireman’s mask and jacket is taking the opportunity to stab the teens responsible for Billy’s death with the school spirit baton.
Has Billy returned from his grave to exact revenge? Or is the killer really Annie, who has spiraled into a life of isolation and antidepressants since an attempted rape and the gruesome death of her boyfriend? Maybe Principal Patterson is under the mask, since he has a lecherous crush on Homecoming queen Cassie and wants her all to himself. Although wandering eyed Coach Connally is just as inappropriate towards the girls, and Miss Russell’s recent spurning of his unwanted advances may have been his boiling point. Then again, there is also Fred the creepy janitor, Billy’s distraught father the sheriff, the principal’s suspicious wife, the jealous cheerleader, and enough additional red herrings to stock St. Mary’s Friday night fish fry.
So much effort is put into distracting viewers from guessing the killer’s identity that “Bloody Homecoming” ends up with a lot of time spent on pointless characters and dead end subplots. Yet even those unable to correctly guess who the culprit is will still be able to easily tell who it is not. Despite a double-digit number of suspects to choose from, there is a choppy structure to the scenes that eliminates just about every teen from the running almost immediately.
That erratic format further extends to tempo issues when it comes to creating suspense. Scenes of the killer in hot pursuit of the next victim are listless. Nearly every death is preceded by a lackluster chase sequence featuring one student cowering in a hiding spot while the slasher searches in vain for a shred of tension. There are too many of these moments that go on for too long, and they all end in an awkwardly acted struggle that makes the scripted action in professional wrestling seem more realistic by comparison.
It would be easier to forgive the shortcomings if “Bloody Homecoming” made up for it in another department. Sadly, it does not. The performance needle spikes on both sides of the range. Some of the actors pull off their parts while others are so green that they could camouflage Kermit the Frog. The images are often washed in a milky grey or overblown white that gives the picture a flat presentation. And several effects are so low rent that seeing the film for anything other than a low budget misfire is next to impossible. At least the filmmakers had the good sense to show a terribly superimposed head in a toilet so briefly that there is a moment to question if the shot was actually as bad as the brain first thought.
“Bloody Homecoming” gives the familiar teenage slasher formula the old college try, but it is ultimately felled by an arrow of inexperience on both sides of the camera. Director Brian C. Weed and screenwriter Jake Helgren have done their homework and appear well aware of the ingredients necessary to concoct a typical revenge thriller set at a high school dance. It is just that the execution takes the train off the tracks with a production that will never have a reason to be remembered or revisited once it drops out of the “New Release” listings.
Review Score: 45