Lionsgate // 2008 // 83 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Franck Tabouring (Retired) // February 25th, 2011
No matter what happens, stay on the train.
Released through the popular Ghost House label, Peter A. Dowling's horror thriller Stag Night (Blu-ray) follows a pretty traditional concept without adding anything particularly new to the genre. Although by no means a total disaster, the film has little to offer besides a limited amount of effective thrills and a generally solid dose of gore. It's not necessarily the kind of stag party you would want to attend...
Stag Night introduces us to four buddies (Kip Pardue, Scott Adkins, Breckin Meyer, and Karl Geary) trying to have some fun on a bachelor party out in New York City. Unfortunately for them, the idea of a glorious night quickly fades away when they accidentally get off a subway train at the wrong station. Trapped underground with two female passengers (Vanessa Shaw and Sarah Barrand), our friends soon become the target of a group of ruthless cannibals looking for their next big meal.
Dowling's Stag Night runs for a mere 83 minutes, and, luckily enough, it doesn't take long until our protagonists have their first encounter with the brutal underground killers. The quest for survival kicks off early on, and, while our friends desperately search for a way back to the surface, the film's plot quickly embraces a pretty speedy pace it successfully maintains until the end. That said, surprises are nonexistent in this movie, and in terms of storyline, Stag Night is incapable of offering us anything we haven't seen yet many times before.
Even though some of the featured underground chases build a moderate amount of suspense, there's nothing really compelling about watching person after person suffering a terrible death. We may be in for a lot of action, but pretty much all of it is incredibly repetitive, leaving no room for awesome twists that could've spiced things up a bit. Instead, we quickly realize the humans don't stand the chance, and they only thing we can do as spectators is guess who's next on the list. Then again, even that is fairly easy to figure out early on most of the time.
Dowling clearly tries to develop his main characters and their relationships throughout the movie, but his plan never really comes together because some of them act incredibly stupid for the situation they're in. On a similar note, the film spends absolutely no time telling viewers anything about the badass killers dwelling in the tunnels. We don't know where they come from or what their deal is, and yet, we're expected to find them terrifying. Needless to say, a bunch of things don't make a lot of sense in this picture.
So how come Stag Night is nonetheless a decently entertaining flick? Well, most of this has to do with the film's solid production values. The tunnels look and feel very creepy, and the crew did a great job creating a dark, claustrophobic environment that unleashes a certain feeling of terror because it's isolated from the surface. The constantly shaking camera may annoy some spectators, but truth be told, it does successfully intensify some chases and bloody battle scenes.
Friends of gore will not be disappointed, either. The makeup work in Stag Night is pretty extensive, and the majority of the brutal killings provoke momentary suspense. From tons of blood splatter to severed heads and other dirty tricks, the carnage is mostly effective.
Hardcore gore needs to look good, and Lionsgate gave Stag Night a beautiful high-definition transfer boasting a clean, sharp image quality whose crushed blacks play a big role in the film's gloomy look. The disc also includes an excellent 5.1 HD Master audio soundtrack that turns your living room into a creepy tunnel loaded with all sorts of threatening noises. Special features are scarce, and the only bonus on the DVD is a pretty long behind-the-scenes featurette dominated with dragging interviews. They could've done a better job at including more footage from the set.
Stag Night lacks logic and freshness, but as a simple horror flick about a group of people hunted down by nasty cannibals, it features a decent level of brainless entertainment ideal for an evening screening party with friends. The thrills are cheap and the plot shallow, but the gore delivers, and that's worth something. It may be a missed opportunity, but it's got a certain feel and flow that's hard to ignore.
All aboard! This stag night is guilty after all.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 83 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated R