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STOKER HILLS (2020)
Directed by Benjamin Louis.
Written by Jonah Kuehner.
Starring Tony Todd, Steffani Brass, David Gridley, Vince Hill-Bedford, William Lee Scott, Tyler Clark,
Eric Etebari, Danny Nucci, John Beasley, Thomas R. Martin, Joy McElveen, Maya Nucci,
Michael Faulkner, Jason Sweat, Sara Friedman
Find out more about this film here!
A pair of film students (David Gridley and Vince Hill-Bedford) and an aspiring actress (Steffani Brass) are collaborating on a film school assignment to make a short horror film. While filming the actress is kidnapped, and the pair of filmmakers trail the killer to his lair—filming the pursuit the entire way. Meanwhile, a pair of detectives recover the camera the filmmakers were using and attempt to piece together the trail in order to track down the killer and hopefully some of the abductees before they are killed.
I have to say, while the premise has a somewhat intriguing SAW-like plotline which attempts dual stories bound for a collision, I had a very difficult time getting into STOKER HILLS. It feels like the filmmakers definitely wanted to highlight the detective angle, which is a somewhat refreshing slant to take this type of film. Still, when you don’t really give a shit about the victims, it’s really hard to give a shit about the movie.
And that was the problem from pretty much the beginning. Gridley and Bedford come off as privileged dude bros goofing off in their film class, taught by horror icon Tony Todd in an appearance that barely counts as a cameo. After they disrupt the class, we cut to a first person POV from their camera where their antics are filmed some more as they attempt to make their movie. The thing is, we never really see the movie they are trying to put together. All we see is them unappealingly chatting behind the scenes and then follow them as they frantically try to track down their abducted friend. The whole getting to know you part of the film is wasted as the more I got to know these two jerks, the less I liked them.
And while the rest of the film moves at a decent clip, because STOKER HILLS failed to grab my investment in its first twenty minutes, I really didn’t give a fig no matter the pace. There’s some kind of sci fi stuff going on with the killer where he is genetically altered in some way leading to some connection between the victims and the killer’s real intent. It all reminded me of stuff James Wan was writing over a decade ago. I guess if you’re a fan of the SAW series, this might be a film you’ll want to check out. Still, if I’m being completely honest, I zoned out of this one way too early and never found the reason to care after that.