After many years of watching horror flicks I have come to the conclusion that most of the teens depicted in these movies deserve their gory and deadly fate, in fact I would go so far as to state that if these characters existed the undead creature dispatching the is doing the gene pool a very large favor. The kids in these slasher flicks should receive an ensemble Darwin award for removing their genetic contribution from subsequent generations thereby benefiting our belabored species. To the youth out there pleas take heed. There are better places to get high and have sex than the middle of a dark isolated woods populated by inbreed cannibals. If your parents send you to a summer camp that the locals refer to as ‘Camp Blood’ report them to family services and get yourself emancipated as quickly as possible. If you choose to ignore this advice than you pretty much deserve the dismemberment that awaits you. The problem with the vast majority of these slash and dash movies is they take themselves far too seriously. It is fantastic to have goals but lets’ face it your first couple of horror movies most likely not rise up to the bar set by Carpenter, Craven or Brava. Don’t give up trying, that is how innovation occurs, just be realistic and have a little fun with your film. I am sure the audience will respond to that in a more positive way. This is what crossed my mind as I sat down for my second viewing on ‘The Caretakers’. At first glance it seemed like just another in an endless stream of this sort of movie but something tugged at me inducing me to take a second look. It occurred to me that this film may seem like a really bad example of the genre to the diehard fan but that is because the film maker is playfully poking fun at the many foibles inherent in the modern independent horror flick. As I re-watched the film gearing to that mind set the movie took on an entirely different light.
The script came from Jackie Olson who has some prior experience spanning a few genres. Typically this works out in favor of the screenplay when its author is versed in other types of storytelling. The basic plot here is one we have all seen countless time. A group of college guys are taking a group of co-eds out to a spooky location for Halloween. The intention is to play a practical joke on them that will scare them out of their wits and clothes and into bed. All of us guys have tried a minor variation of this taking a girl to a scary movie so she will cuddle close. Initially both groups are stereo types with the guys over muscled narcissus and the girls overly compliant with bust sizes far in excess of their IQs. Where this film starts to pull away from the pack is in how care is given to build a back story and affording the characters an opportunity to break the mold and grow. This may have presented a problem for many fans that have come to expect fountains of blood to erupt with the regularity of old faithful. Direct Bryce Olson takes get time in letting the tale of terror unfold, not rushing the required twist ending. What the Olsons have done here is highly reminiscent of the old practice of telling a spooky story around a summer camp fire. While the smoores are melting the kids know that a shock is about to happen and give themselves over to the mood allowing themselves to be frightened. There is a similar feel here. In order to best appreciate and enjoy this movie you need to let go of the analytical part of your mind and give in to having some fun. While the film makes its share of technical mistakes it does come across as an earnest effort to craft a parody of the genre.
It is a slow started. There are shots of the guys, shirtless, pumping iron and the girls putting on make-up, Ella (Kira Verrastro) as well as one blonde, Missy (Lola Davidson), who can’t tell the difference between grapefruits and oranges. This just helps to lull the audience into a typical, know what will happen mood helping to highlight the frequently dark comedy. The guys are gross buffoons who still think fart jokes are the pinnacle of humor while one girl in particular, Sonja (Jennifer Freeman) feels she is much too hot not to be seen by the entire school at the dance. Instead of a stretch limo this group should ride in the short yellow bus. I just felt that much of this was intentional poking fun at the lamentable condition Indy horror as fallen.
Overall the technical side of the production is better than most. The cinematography is excellent with imaginative use of lighting and blocking. The editing works but again the pacing is a bit prone to dragging. There is a great little role by Jennifer Tilly as a teacher who trolls Face book and lusts after students. There is also a spot with Judd Nelson ironically as the overprotective dad of the prettiest girl in the school. Gather some friends over and take this as a horror comedy and you’ll enjoy it a lot more.