Fright Flick Movie Review
Written by Chris "Sham" Shamburger
DVD released by Breaking Glass Pictures
"I'm shooting a movie. Yeah, it's a horror movie. It's called Fright Flick. Actually, it's called Fright Flick Part 3. It's the second and last sequel. They're not very good. But they're a lot of fun to work on."
Directed by Israel Luna
Written by Israel Luna, Todd Jenkins (story)
2011, 94 minutes, Not rated
DVD released on January 25th, 2011
Chad Allen as Brock
Charles Baker as Chase
Whitney Blake as Kat
Tyler Brockington as Ryan
John Paul Burkhart as Eddie
Allyn Carrell as Mrs. Shepard
Richard Curtin as Director Laurent
Jim Dolan as Mr. Wellington
Dan Forsythe as Kenny
Jennifer Garner as Debbie
Andrew Grillo as Johnny
Toni Jefferson as Sissy
Todd Jenkins as Producer Jenkins
Natali Jones as Eye-Candy
Daphne Khoury as Angela
Adam Kitchen as Gill
Tushar Mali as Kumar
Melissa McCurley as Librarian
Valerie Nelson as Ophelia Cumming
Mitchell Self as Harry
Tom Zembrod as Chad
So explains a character in Fright Flick, a low-budget horror film from writer/director Israel Luna. This so perfectly encapsulates the mentality a lot of filmmakers bring with them when making a low-budget genre film. I say "a lot of" because there are different types of low budget.
First, there is the "no budget" film, where fans of horror movies get together with their friends, borrow a family member's video camera, assign jobs (usually putting the best-looking and least dignified of the bunch as the main character), and just start shooting. The end result is typically atrocious (take a look at the earlier entries from Brain Damage Films and York Entertainment), but they're always fun to make. And thanks to their lack of budget, a daring distributor and some clever marketing, these films garnered nationwide availability and some alarmingly lucrative profits. It's why you saw so many of those god-awful VHS tapes cluttering your local video store in the late '90s.
Then there is the resourceful low-budget horror film, like Fright Flick. It's the top layer of dirt cheap. It looks like a million dollars but cost a mere tenth of that to make. However, because it has any money going into it, the filmmakers are more aware of the movie they're making and do their best to make every cent count. It ultimately makes for a better film, that's for sure, but I imagine it also takes some of the fun out of making it.
The interesting thing about Fright Flick is everyone looks like they're having a blast, and the movie, which is already entertaining as hell, is even more fun because of it.
Fright Flick, like most standardized slasher films, begins with a woman in the shower. Whereas most movies of its ilk wait at least a few minutes to get to the T&A, Fright Flick dives into sud-soaked triple d's in the first twenty-eight seconds of the movie. Why didn't I include a screenshot of them, you ask? Simple: they wouldn't fit.
The woman in question is actually filming a scene in a horror movie called "Fright Flick" (yes, it's the "movie within a movie" technique — think Demons or the more recent Midnight Movie), and this is the final scene of her career as an actress. Not because she's retiring, but because she'll be impaled through the head by an unseen killer in the next ten minutes — for real!
Flash forward two years where the surviving cast and crew of the first "Fright Flick" have returned for a second follow-up picture, "Fright Flick Part 3" (apparently they made a part 2, but let's not get into that). There's the persnickety director Laurent (Richard Curtin), his lapdog producer Jenkins (Todd Jenkins), cameraman Gill (Adam Kitchen), production assistant Ryan (Tyler Brockington), his cousin Eye-Candy (Natali Jones), leading actors Brock (Chad Allen) and Ophelia (Valerie Nelson), and supporting actress Angela (Daphne Khoury) among a host of other characters who don't stick around long enough to see the final reel. Because unbeknownst to them, someone is killing off the cast and crew the same way the characters die in the script.
The script by Luna, while not especially smart or original, is clever enough in concealing the killer's identity for a majority of the picture (my first and only guess was the right one, but it took an hour to make it — after you've seen a billion and one of these films, that's quite the feat). The revelation of the killer is satisfyingly quirky and creepy, with a dynamite performance to pull the whole thing off.
The murder set-pieces are done well, but ingenuity goes by the wayside. Stabbings, decapitations, and car-rammings — things we've seen hundreds of times before — accentuate the violence, but it's an especially realistic, wonderfully realized throat slashing that gets the biggest shock moment.
The characters are somewhat unlikable as they lust over each other's successes, but performances from some very adept and underrated actors make them more than cookie-cutter fodder. Natali Jones and Daphne Khoury both fill the shoes of the "final girl" quite nicely, but the script only leaves room for one. Adam Kitchen plays the part of the hero just fine, sticking out by playing it cool. Richard Curtin is terrifically sardonic in a scene where he deceives the city's Chamber of Commerce into thinking he's making a religious film. Valerie Nelson gets a scene-stealing moment as blonde bimbo Ophelia when she performs a monologue about being raped ("I used to get molested by my dad… anusly and vuh-gine-ally"). But it's Charles Baker as gay crew member Chase who gets the hammiest introduction ("Christ on a Kosher cracker!" he announces as he stomps around in his stilettos and leather pants). It's a scenery-chewing performance that lasts till the very end.
Fright Flick may not frighten or leave you with much to think about, but it's a witty and enjoyable diversion that proves low-budget can still get the job done… with a few laughs along the way.
Video, Audio and Special features:
Video, audio and special features will not be graded as this was a screener.