Three years ago, twenty-two year old "girl-next door" Rachel barely survived a brutal massacre that left all of her friends murdered. Time has passed, and Rachel has moved on, but unfortunately her close friends are spending Spring Break in a secluded house in the woods, and they have cordially invited her to join. She would never have accepted the invitation if she realized that another bloodbath would be showing up as plus one. Once Rachel and her friends arrive at the cabin, the partying, sex, and...terror begins. From girls' only pillow fights to debauchery in a bedroom, it's going to be a blast...aside from the stabbing, flesh melting, and castration. Seven friends will go into a secluded house for the best Spring Break of their lives, but only one will be alive to post about it on Facebook the next week, as Rachel's biggest fears become a reality once again! Can Rachel survive another bloody massacre?
August 21st, 2017
Johnny James Fiore
It’s no longer just an abbreviated expression of surprise or anger – now we can officially say it’s the title of a new horror/comedy from Midnight Releasing and the debut feature from director Peter Herro.
You know the deal. 7 horny college students are heading out to a remote, but well-appointed cabin in the woods – to celebrate their final spring break before graduation. You’ve got douche-bag “brahs”, rich-bitch skanks, the quiet type and the female virgin with a past. There’s a warning from one of the hillbilly locals, no cell phone reception, lots of drinking, pot-smoking and sex, sex, sex. And then later there’ll be death and gore, gore, gore. There’s not much original in this updated stalk-n-slash, but it’s still quite a doozy of a good time.
It looks like you’re gonna get the good news first. But every ying has its yang – so there will be some bad news as well. So read on.
Performances are all quite good. It’s impressive to see what appear to be stereotypical characters and the matching acting jobs for roles like this – but then you can tell that the actors are quality when they must drop their bitchiness and/or douchiness and actually respond to the horrors of their character’s dire situation. It’s always a test of sorts for me as an audience member. Sure, you can pull off this shallow ridiculousness, but when your character has to meet their fate, can you make me believe? All of these actors pass this little test of mine – in some cases going beyond what I would have expected. Of note was Andrea Hunt (whom I first saw in the Awaken the Shadowman at this year’s Dances with Films). When her situation becomes sticky, she sells the terror, while still hanging onto the character’s ultimate shallowness and vanity. It’s a nice acting moment – if totally disturbing for me as an audience member.
As our lead Rachel, Carrie Ott does a fine job as the innocent wall-flower, battling some inner demons (the character was in a similar “killer terrorizing my friends” situation previously). And as the film goes on, Ott (clearly a lost member of the Mara sisters) gets the chance to up her acting ante – and it pays off. It’s a solid lead performance, and Ott can certainly sell the tears. I saw her work in a film I reviewed last year called The Horror (check out my review here) and her performance here confirms that The Horror was no fluke.
The dialogue is pretty snappy throughout (including references to Dante’s Inferno) and I most enjoyed the banter between the sexes – notably when the girls join the boys in one of the cabin’s rooms. The boys ask, “Where have you been?” to which the girls reply, “Girl problems.” The boys’ response is, “Peeing?” Classic.
There’s plenty of tits-n-ass in the film – to please those who would expect (and hope for) such things in a stalk-n-slash picture. And in addition to the standard female nudity, we are blessed with some naked male rear-ends as well. Equal time, folks – equal time.
The gore effects are all effective and seamlessly done – but none moreso than the close-up of someone stepping on an upturned nail. It looks damn fine, enough so that both my husband and I squealed with ghoulish delight at the effect. There are burnings, disembowelings and a dreaded castration. Plenty here for even the most jaded gorehound to find the time to rejoice.
And now – you take the good, you take the bad…
The biggie problem is that the film’s tone feels uneven and unsure. With a title like WTF!, you’re guaranteed that it’s going to be tongue-in-cheek, full of humor and knowing homages to the slasher movies of yesteryear. But the film is also surprisingly brutal and dark.
And this dichotomy doesn’t line up. Most of the humor is character-driven and some of it is quite funny, but when the situations get violent – it becomes kind of off-putting. Not that I have any qualms with gore or violence (if so, then I’m in the wrong business), but it simply doesn’t match up with the earlier light and innocently humorous quality. Either go all out dark or all out goofy – otherwise the audience doesn’t necessarily know how to react.
I also had a problem with the film’s pacing. I am always a sucker for good character development, and I appreciate films which take the time to do such things right. But there has to be a point where the action really begins and gets the story underway. The opening sequence at a pool party feels like filler. Sure, we get some history behind the characters, but there has to be a better way to do that – while getting our characters to the wilderness cabin and establishing the danger – much faster. It just takes too long to reach fever pitch. And even when we get to the cabin – there’s more cavorting and goofiness before the truly crazy, WTF!-style stuff begins.
Celebrity gossip-hound Perez Hilton appears in a cameo at a raucous pool party. Not sure if we’re supposed to buy him as a regular college-aged student, but WTF, right? He has some name recognition – so let’s throw him in there!
And just a quick call-out to the ultimate coolness of the opening credits. Very nicely done!
Despite the fact that WTF! uses set-ups/scenarios which you’ve seen in countless horror films over the past 40 years, the performances contained within, the smart humor, the fun dialogue and overabundance of well-done gore will make it worth your while to check this one out.
After all, WTF else do you have to do?
WTF! Is scheduled for VOD release on August 1st, 2017.