Review: Stoker Hills

Stoker Hills - Review


Here at The 8th Passenger, we’re entirely self-taught connoisseurs of film. We ain’t got none o’ that there fancy book-learnin’; our alma mater was the experience of watching lots and lots of lots of films, and then either praising or lamenting them on the long-gone, dearly-missed IMDb boards. Our only knowledge of film school, then, comes from the surprisingly shoddy graduating efforts of film-school-taught auteurs like John Carpenter, George Lucas and Spike Lee, and of course from what we’re shown in movies.

So when Stoker Hills says that the experience is mostly filming oneself goofing off in class, making lewd comments towards one’s more talented (and less boorish) female fellow students, and not really listening to the lectures patiently delivered by the Candyman himself, Tony Todd, who oscillates between hamming it up in grand fashion and appearing to have forgotten his lines, who are we to disagree?

But no matter, he’s only really in three scenes. Soon enough we’re watching our heroes’ amateur footage, which soon turns from sleazeball horror (they want to make a zombie hooker movie; no-one informs them that it’s been done, more than once at that) into real horror when their star is abducted by a taciturn weirdo in a nice coat. What’s a found-footage protagonist to do but keep filming, no matter how deep the horror gets?

Mercifully, it isn’t found-footage all the way; a pair of detectives, one of whom (Eric Etebari) is sincerely trying to lift up the material, the other of whom (William Lee Scott) knows what kind of film he’s in and is determined to have fun milking it, investigate in scenes that are shot traditionally, and competently at that.

The main reason to recommend Stoker Hills is a wonderfully witty final scene, but it’s tough going sticking it out through dreary scene after scene of “torture”, which is mostly tied-up, screaming youngsters and our heavy-breathing and strangely passive villain. Lacking even the creative gore of a Saw sequel, there’s more torture on the viewer’s side of the screen than there is in the film.

Nb: Extra star awarded for that ending

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