Studio: Revolver Entertainment
Director: Sean J. Vincent
Writer: Sean J. Vincent
Producer: Sean J. Vincent, Jenny Gayner, Jon Atkinson
Stars: Jenny Gayner, Sean J. Vincent, Thea Knight, Dan Peters, Paul Cooper
Four friends investigate an abandoned drug rehabilitation center where numerous people have inexplicably disappeared.
If the story of an investigation into a reportedly haunted medical facility is filmed as a traditional narrative instead of as “found footage,” will the end result be any less redundantly uninspired? “The Addicted” answers that question by responding with a confident and thunderous, “no!”
At “The Manor” drug rehabilitation centre in 1987, a patient named David was driven to kill himself when the doctor assigned to his care kept David doped on smack while the doctor ran away with his wife. Not only did this random junkie inexplicably end up as a ghostly supernatural force, but his son coincidentally grew up to become a clown-masked serial killer in an orange jumpsuit, making them quite the two-world tag team to haunt the building. Horror movies are often light on logic, but how does this setup make a lick of sense?
Flash forward to the present. Nicole is an aspiring journalist hungry for her breakout story. With their friends Mike and Liz to accompany them, Nicole’s boyfriend Adam suggests taking a peek inside the now vacant rehab center where people have been mysteriously disappearing. So off they go with a few video cameras in tow for a night of paranormal activity like only an abandoned building in a horror movie can provide.
To call Nicole, Adam, Mike, and Liz the main characters of “The Addicted” would be inaccurate. The word “character” implies that they have discernible traits and personalities. Aside from one line of backstory regarding Nicole’s father, and her motivation to find a news item that can land her a job, the four of them are vacant bodies populating an equally empty plot. Mike and Liz are introduced with ten seconds of bickering and a nearly two-minute montage of cigarette smoking and vodka chugging set to a misplaced pop rock song. With astonishing depth like this, I feel like I’ve known them for years.
Of course, the quartet runs afoul of both the heroin-loving ghost and the real-world stalker in a killer clown mask. I suppose I should warn SPOILER ALERT before revealing that Nicole’s boyfriend Adam turns out to be the ghost’s mass murdering son, bent on revenge because his girlfriend is the daughter of the doctor who wronged their family. It is never fully clear if the movie truly believes in that revelation as a shocking twist, though.
For one thing, Nicole’s boyfriend and the little boy in the flashbacks share the name Adam, so it is assumed from the outset that they are one and the same. For another, there are only two live males in the present day cast. So when one of them disappears, and a masked maniac enters to torture the other man, it is hardly a mystery that the face under the mask can only belong to one other person. Yet when Adam does unmask himself, the camera cuts to a close-up with a dun-dun trumpet as if the audience should be gasping at the reveal.
Previously known by the title “Rehab,” “The Addicted” doesn’t just waste the viewer’s time, it also wastes its own. One of the flashback scenes is over six minutes of latex gloves filling a syringe, verbal abuse from David’s wife, and then an extended sequence of shooting up before David does his suicidal deed. A four-minute epilogue is one minute of Nicole driving, one minute of her ascending the stairs to her flat, and a minute-plus of her showering just to arrive at a predictable pre-credits sting.
To move Adam offscreen so he can Clark Kent into his clown getup, the pretense is that he has the two ladies stay put while he checks the upstairs fire escape exit. He comes back to say the exits are blocked and the movie moves along. When the script later requires that he disappear once more, Adam actually suggests that he “try the fire escapes again.” Is the script really this lazy? Yes, it is. After Adam goes away again, the girls pound on the same immovable doors that they have been unable to open since their ordeal started. So desperate is “The Addicted” to find something to do and a reason to do it that it recycles its own limited ideas, and ones that other films came up with, too. I lost count of how many times the camera is placed on the floor for a “REC”-style shot of someone reaching at the lens while being pulled into the darkness.
As the third act gets underway, Final Girl’s courage is renewed when she grabs a circular power saw and starts sparking through the bars on the door. We know she means business because she dangles a cigarette from her lips at the same time. Hold on, what? There has been a power saw on the ground just 30 feet from the door and you are only just now getting around to using it? It’s a useless sequence anyway as the power goes out and she loses interest in the endeavor, kind of like the writer did in the screenplay, and I did in the movie.
Is there even a point mentioning the terrible digital FX, dumb actions like hitting the killer once in the stomach and stooping over his body, or the ludicrous ending that sees two daughters willfully giving their father to a killer and a ghost because he had an affair 25 years ago? Since it isn’t shot in first-person perspective, “The Addicted” is technically not another pointless “found footage” traipse through the crumbling walls of a reportedly haunted building. Although unless refitting a mental asylum as a rehab center and swapping twentysomethings for thirtysomethings count as significant changes to the formula, it might as well be.
Review Score: 25