** Contains Spoilers **
Oh dear, it’s another offering from the After Dark stable. I think we all know what that means...
Remember when the hidden camera/reality TV motif was new and interesting? 2002’s MY LITTLE EYE exploited it to decent effect, and even Michael Myers got in on the act the same year in HALLOWEEN: RESURRECTION. A decade later it’s starting to feel distinctly tired. A young man is abducted from a busy city street and bundled into the back of a van (seemingly without any of his fellow pedestrians noticing/caring). He’s bound and gagged and transported, along with several other terrified youngsters, to an abandoned prison. It soon transpires that the kidnapping is the first part of a nightmarish ordeal they have to endure in order to star in the new reality TV show they recently auditioned for and claim a hefty financial prize. They agree to take part, and are locked in the prison for the night and forced to face their deepest fears.
Problems thus far: the concept has been done to death; the characters are all either so bland or annoying you couldn’t care less what happens to them; and their so-called ‘deepest fears’ wouldn’t trouble a neurotic five year old (the vegetarian is scared of meat, the smart girl of being alone, etc). And that’s another thing – all the characters have a hook to make them easily identifiable, from which they are not allowed to deviate for even a moment. Everything the gay guy says alludes to his sexuality, everything the smart girl says is so torturously convoluted and syllable-heavy it sounds like the Wachowski Bros wrote it, everything the black guy says is about him trying to sound cool. To say they’re stereotypes is an understatement.
Inevitably, things go wrong. The ‘terrifying’ (if your idea of terrifying is dolls heads hanging from the ceiling and an evil clown narrator) haunted prison starts to look like it really is haunted, and people (eventually, after a tediously long and uninteresting build-up) start dying. The deaths are uninspired and mostly bloodless. The killer is nothing but a fat man with his shirt off. The inevitable twist, when it finally comes, is both lazy and stupendously illogical, and sets up an immediate second twist that’s so obvious a blind man in a coma could see it coming.
Sloppy, unconvincing and dull.