Lionsgate // 2009 // 95 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Dennis Prince (Retired) // April 10th, 2009
What happens when you apply the tenets of communal collaboration with the grunge-gore sub-genre? Well, you get a bunch of folks proclaiming the outcome will be the greatest horror film ever conceived. Of course, when the final product misses the mark, nobody has lingered to take the blame.
Welcome to the Perkins' 14 project.
It was conceived as an online project and contest hosted by Massify.com (a filmmaker's networking portal). When Lionsgate was searching for the next batch of indie horror films to serve up in their 8 Films to Die For After Dark HorrorFest III gala, horror fans descended upon Massify to submit and select the best idea for one of the eight pictures. Hopeful filmmaker Jeremy Donalson won the community heart with his ambitious idea about a serial kidnapper who creates flesh-eating monsters from what once were innocent children.
Robert Perkins (Richard Brake, Doom) suffered the debilitating trauma when he saw his own parents murdered at gunpoint when he was a mere six years old. Twenty-eight years later, Perkins had established himself as a modestly successful pharmacist in the quiet town of Stone Cove. Of course, if all was truly quiet in Stone Cove, police officer Dwayne Hopper (Patrick O'Kane, Exorcist: The Beginning) wouldn't be struggling to keep his family together, his wife embroiled in an extra-marital affair and his quasi-goth daughter oozing with sarcastic insolence with every breath. Hopper was a different man before his young son, Kyle, was abducted ten years earlier, one of fourteen children kidnapped, never to be seen again. Today, though, Hopper meets up with the bookish Perkins after a routine traffic stop. Looking deeper into his file, Hopper begins to suspect he has secured the Stone Cove Killer. As Hopper interrogates his evasive captive, a fellow officer infiltrates Perkins' home and basement, unwittingly unleashing a small tribe of vicious killers who seem to remember the town oh so well.
If that sounds good to you, you're in good company: this was the premise that gained project hopeful Donalson the green light for his idea to be included in 2009's After Dark collection. The picture was turned over to former After Dark director Craig Singer (Dark Ride) and churned out in lightning-speed fashion in order to be among the seven other films of the current festival. Somewhere along the way, though, Perkins' 14 went off the rails. Apparently Donalson's winning idea was then "worked" by credited freshman screenwriter Lane Shadgett. Now, when it comes to blaming whoever injected so much gratuitous character stupidity and gaping plot holes, Shadgett cannot escape conviction: if Donalson's idea was riddled with ridiculousness, Shadgett should have corrected it; if Donalson's idea was solid and well crafted, then it was Shadgett who inserted aforementioned narrative offenses. That said, be ready to cringe and actually shake your fists at your screen when an officer stupidly lets personal rage trump an easy criminal conviction. Clench your teeth when zombie-like creatures emerge to terrorize a town whose inhabitants are prone to stand and watch carnage about them (and in direct pursuit of them) rather than arm themselves or take flight. See a town's police station, seemingly manned by only two officers, lack any sort of armory with which to defend itself from enemy combatants. And, wince as a goth-punk tough guy hot to deflower Hopper's young daughter cry like a little girl when his hand is injured, never able to suck it up and aid the two women who need to wet-nurse the pansy. Yeah, it's one of the most mindless horror films to come along in years.
Yes, there's some gore to be found but by the time the blood starts to spill, you've already been seeing red at the inane goings-on such that it's a lost cause. You'll see some neck munching, gut pulls, and what could have been an interesting "spontaneous double amputation" if it weren't for the fact that a few shotgun blasts could hardly inflict such damage.
On DVD, Lionsgate delivers Perkins'14 in a nifty slipcase cover that has a lenticular applique that reveals an unseen monster in the lower corner (and wholly unseen within the feature film). The transfer, anamorphically enhanced and framed at a 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio, is only average. The film is very dark to begin with and the encoding onto this disc doesn't seem to do much to help us get a better look at the on-screen action (or maybe that's a good thing). Colors are rather muted and bland and detail is rather sub-par, causing you to wonder if it's a VHS tape that somehow you had been lured into viewing. The audio fares better, with a reasonably wide soundstage and discreet effects thanks to the Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround track. Extras include a number of webisodes originally posted at Massify, none of which are terribly entertaining. And, be ready to clutch your remote and jam down the Home Menu button lest you be subjected to a seemingly endless parade of commercials for all the other After Dark titles from this recent batch.
Truly, society is to blame for this one. Guilty by online committee. Also,
we're sending out an all-points-bulletin for the apprehension of the shills who
are falsely trumping up this disappointment at Amazon.com.
Review content copyright © 2009 Dennis Prince; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 95 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Massify project page
* Massify final production page