MTI // 2008 // 95 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // January 2nd, 2009
A ruthless killer...a haunting memory.
Six horny teens...a cabin...an unstoppable killer...blah blah blah.
Said teens decide to go up to one of their friend's abandoned house for an eerie overnight filled with booze and fluid exchange. Everyone's relieved over the assumed shooting death of "The Spiker" (Frank Zagarino), an infamous serial killer who slaughtered 20-something people with railroad spikes.
Of course, he's not quite dead yet and returns with a vengeance to menace the kids, rudely interrupting their sleazy teen high jinks. One by one, they're whacked in brutal fashion, but at the heart of the violence is a mystery about a ghost.
Spiker is a straight-forward slasher formula, with a moderate splash of narrative twist that isn't quite twisty enough to break the film free of its derivative nature. If it's been, say, twelve seconds since you've seen a group-of-teenagers-getting-killed-in-a-reclusive-cabin-by-a-maniac-wielding-pointy-steel-objects and you're angling for another dose of the formula, here you go.
Director Frank Zagarino (same guy who plays the villain) hits all the necessary beats:
1) The "teens" are your typical jackasses, insulting each other, making stupid decisions that result in the end of their stupid lives. (Hey genius if you've got the psychopathic murderer at axe-point, swing the @#$%^&%*#$# thing!)
2) The three girls don't hesitate to disrobe, no matter how awkward and superfluous the love scenes may be.
3) The killer is seemingly capable of supernatural strength and agility. Homeboy repeatedly throws CGI railroad spikes into people's backs.
4) Victims are dispatched in semi-creative methods: axe to the chest, railroad spike to the solar plexus, etc.
5) The ending is ambiguous.
The small gimmick that adds some juice to the proceedings is the ghost story, which is teased from the beginning and prompts the only use of the visual effects (in the form of a few shots of a phantom bride). These elements aren't terrible, though the payoff isn't super-compelling.
The DVD is bare-bones. Video quality (1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen) is solid, though the colors are soft and the 5.1 digital surround is active enough. Trailers are it for extras.
There's at least a modicum of ambition swimming in the ho-hum -- but it's not enough.
Spiker? Bump it.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 95 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated R