Greetings again from the darkness. Known for an endless stream of copycats and re-treads, the horror genre periodically surprises us with a dose of originality. Heck, we don’t even ask horror filmmakers for anything too revolutionary … just give us something we haven’t seen a few dozen times before. Writer/director David Robert Mitchell “gets it” and delivers a game of psycho-sexual-tag-you’re-it featuring the most sinister STD ever.
A definite departure from the all-too-common teen slasher films, the slow-drip terror of this one has more in common with dread and eventuality than scream-inducing terror and “made you jump” scares. When we first meet Jay (Maika Monroe), she is a typical pushing-twenty student who enjoys leisurely swims in her suburban backyard pool, hanging out with friends, and a healthy dating scene. Well, healthy until one evening of back seat passion with Hugh (Jake Weary) sets off the above-mentioned sinistry. See Jake has purposefully “passed on” some kind of affliction that attracts a death-seeking entity who slowly, but purposefully pursues its target. Supposedly the only options are to be killed or pass it on through more passion … the worst kind of “pay it forward”.
Jay is supported in her ongoing attempts to avoid the entity by her sister Kelly (Lili Sepe), her neighbor and classmate Greg (Daniel Zovatto), and Paul (Keir Gilchrist) her not-so-secret admirer who would do anything to protect her. The big catch is that only Jay can see the entity … making heroism quite elusive for her support group.
Lest there be any doubt of the dire situation, director Mitchell begins the movie with a very vivid example of the likely result in being “caught” by the entity, and adds the score from composer Disasterpeace … an ominous throwback techno-sound that would be distracting if not so fitting. This has all the makings of a breakout role for Maika Monroe, with similarities to Jamie Lee Curtis in the original Halloween movie (1978).
The low budget caused some obvious production limitations – in particular an awkward bounce from day to night and back again, and some iffy effects. However, the suburban Detroit setting provides a nice backdrop, and of special note are the Redford Theatre (est 1928) replete with its beautiful pipe organ, and the indoor swimming pool put to spectacular use in the film’s climax. As long as the audience is not expecting the typical teen slasher, this creative horror film should gain an audience while putting director David Robert Mitchell on the fast track to bigger budget films.