Judge Gordon Sullivan wants to know where they're hiding the new ideas.
Blood. Crime. Weed. Moonshine.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: to be taken seriously, indie films have to bring something interesting to the table. Because they don't have the spit and polish of their big-budget brethren, indie flicks have to do something to distinguish themselves and get over that budget handicap. I'm not expecting perfection, but at least one of the major aspects of the film (story, directing, acting, special effects) needs to be special to overcome the film's other deficiencies. Sadly, Stash fails to distinguish itself in any significant way.
The film tells the story of a pair of stoners who get the bright idea of robbing their dealer, Bud (Kevin Taylor). Naturally, he comes home to catch them in the act, threatening the pair with a shotgun. In exchange for letting them live, Bud demands that they bring him a young woman a night for three nights. At the film's start, the pair picks up a young woman with car trouble to take her to Bud's place for his sadistic purposes. In this case, the wrong girl has been chosen because her father has connections with local police, who begin to close in on the stoners and their dealer.
As I said, Stash is nothing new. A sadistic hillbilly tortures young women in his basement. The only minor new aspect is that he's a drug dealer, but the film doesn't do anything with that. The direction of the film isn't horrible, with a few decently placed flashbacks, but can't overcome a mediocre story and poor acting. Yes, unsurprisingly, the acting in Stash won't have Hollywood trembling in its stylish boots just yet. Kevin Taylor is fine as Bud, but he's not asked to do much other than brandish his beard and look menacing. The rest of the cast utterly fail to impress, with the lone exception of a short appearance by Debbie Rochon. Finally, the film doesn't even really try for special effects, instead letting the audience's imagination conjure much of the horror. It could be an effective technique, but there's not enough story to support much imaginative horror.
Judging by the DVD's cover, Stash is trying to sell itself with sex and violence, but can't offer much of either. For sex we do get a quite a bit of nudity, but it's mostly of poorly lit, blood-soaked young women; not exactly the most titillating presentation, even for the fetish crowd. For violence we get a bunch of stage blood, but not a lot else. Bud tries for menacing, but it's really hard to take a guy who masturbates on women and then comically humps them like something out of a cartoon very terrifying. It's sad, because with a little more attention to special effects and the drug-dealing hillbilly angle, Stash might have actually created something other than boredom during its 77-minute runtime.
On the technical front, Stash looks pretty good for indie horror. The video transfer is widescreen, but not anamorphically enhanced, which is a shame. The audio fares a little better. One of the more impressive aspects of the film was the use of original music, and the audio track presents that music well, with a good balance between music and dialogue. For a low-budget feature, Bloody Earth Films didn't skimp on the extras. First up are two commentaries. The first track features director Jacob Ennis, and he talks about the film's conception and production. He's got a pretty laidback way of talking and he goes quiet towards the end, but he still manages to dish out some interesting information about the making of his film. The second track features the producers Billy and Denise Blackwell. The pair talks about their involvement in the film, from financing to onscreen appearances. It's almost like watching the film with someone's mom and dad as they're both casual and chatty. Next up is a 15-minute making-of featurette that includes interviews of the cast and crew interspersed with on-set footage. Then, we have eight minutes of bloopers/outtakes, as well as a short featurette on the creation of the film's one "monster" (I won't say more so I don't spoil the utterly ridiculous ending). Rounding out the featurettes is an interview with the legendary Debbie Rochon. The rest of the extras include a music video and a bunch of trailers for Bloody Earth and Camp Motion Pictures films.
Everyone in the extras seemed nice and sincere, so it saddens me that my opinion of Stash is so low. I know the crew was working with a minuscule budget, but there's still not enough here to recommend it. Indie-horror fans could certainly do worse than this slice of hillbilly torture-porn, but only the desperate are urged to seek it out.
Stash is guilty of holding out.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Bloody Earth Films
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