Teen centric horror stars Haley Bennett, who was recently seen in the really effective thriller Kristyand probably the only reason to watch this. Story has 17 year-old Molly Hartley approaching her 18th birthday and being continually haunted by the nightmare of her own mother (Marin Hinkle) attacking her with a pair of scissors. Mom is in a psychiatric ward now and Molly lives with her dad (Jake Weber) and carries the physical and mental scars of that attack to her new school. Soon though, Molly learns that her mother tried to kill her due to a deal made with a mysterious woman to save Molly’s life when she was born stillborn after a miscarriage in a public restroom… yup, you read that right. The deal was that on her 18th birthday, Molly would become a servant of Satan…and now her birthday draws near.
Totally routine and forgettable PG-13 horror is directed very by-the-numbers by Mickey Liddell from a script by John Travis and Rebecca Sonnenshine. Basically it’s a high school version of Rosemary’s Baby with poor young Molly being stalked by those who want to kill her before she reaches her birthday and by the servants of evil who want to see her meet her date with destiny. It’s all very boring and while Haley Bennett does show some of the intensity that made her a great heroine in Kristy, the actress has very little to work with here. Dull and forgettable. Also stars AnnaLynne McCord as a typical mean girl, a part that she seems to play so well.
(Clicking the highlighted links brings you to corresponding reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)
Kristy is a taunt and intense little thriller that finds pretty college student Justine (Haley Bennett) staying behind on campus during the Thanksgiving break. Her weekend of solace, solitude and study is turned into a living nightmare when she has an unsettling encounter with a very strange women (Ashley Greene) at a convenience store. The woman and her masked associates follow Justine back to campus and begin to hunt her like an animal, killing anyone that gets in their way and referring to her as “Kristy”. Whatever their motives or reasons, Justine has no plans to be an easy target and this time, the hunters may have chosen the wrong prey!
Intense thriller is directed by Oliver Blackburn and is a simple story made all the more effective because of its simplicity. There is no excess baggage here. Blackburn, from Anthony Jaswinski’s script, establishes from the first frames that these are deranged and dangerous individuals and then quickly establishes Justine as a very likable and hardworking young woman. We like her right away and thus when she is targeted by Greene’s disturbing woman and her associates, we care about her and are rooting for her. Also established is just how alone Justine is, as the campus is all but empty and any possible help are dispatched quickly and brutally. This creates an atmosphere of helplessness and tension as Justine is outnumbered and forced to play a cat and mouse game with these vicious killers. The film never gives us an outright explanation of exactly who they are and why they are doing this…though the opening montage voiceover states that Kristy means ‘flower of Christ’ and to “kill ‘Kristy’ is to kill God”, so this may indicate a Satanic cult. Whatever their origins, we do get just enough to establish that they are serial murderers with an agenda and a purpose and there are vague clues left for us to put together on our own as for the details. Blackburn skillfully combines all this into a tight little movie about a young woman fighting for her life and we like Justine enough and hate these thugs enough that when she does fight back, it evokes strong reaction. If you find yourself cheering out loud for our heroine, you are not alone. It can be brutal at times, but never overdoes it, so the violence has impact.
Our two female leads are very strong. Haley Bennett gives us a very smart, determined and resilient heroine in the very likable Justine. She is obviously terrified, but not going down without a fight and when cornered, she strikes out with a vengeance. Ashley Greene again shows with the right material and project she can impress as she did with her touching performance in Skateland. Here she is a psychotic killer and a very effective one. As the only one of the killers to show her face and speak, it is up to her to establish the menace and lethality of the deranged individuals who hunt Justine, and she does so, very well. As for the rest of the supporting players they all do solid work from ill-fated campus security (Mathew St. Patrick) to Justine’s loving boyfriend (Lucas Till) to Greene’s silent companions in murder (Chris Coy, Mike Seal and Lucius Falick).
I liked this movie a lot. Simple and direct, with no unnecessary baggage. Establishes heroine and villains quickly and gets down to the suspense and violence. It gives our bad guys…and girl…menace and yet an air of mystery and creates a strong and very likable heroine to root for. When the violence comes, it’s just enough to give it impact, but not bludgeon us or numb us to it. There is some nail-biting suspense, good atmosphere and Blackburn uses the empty halls and rooms of Kristy‘s college campus setting to maximum effect. Add in an effective 80s-ish electronic score by François-Eudes Chanfrault (High Tension, Inside) and you have got an entertaining and intense night on the couch!