“Do yourself a favor and rent You’re Next for a fresh take on the tired genre and let this cabin remain unoccupied.”
by Rob Rector
W. C. Fields is credited with the phrase, “Never work with children or animals,” both of which are featured in the new thriller Psympatico. It’s good they decided not to listen to him, as they are perhaps the best aspects of this slow-moving, poorly acted The Strangers knock-off.
You can certainly appreciate the can-do spirit, because the makers obviously could not afford decent sound, lighting, writers and especially acting.
As much as the writing/directing siblings Daniel and Stewart Doggett would like to think they’ve somehow twisted the genre conventions of the cabin-in-the-woods genre, they offer nothing new and actually take a few steps back in the process.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before: A group get stuck in the woods and are terrorized by a group of random kil… Did you just say “Stop?”. Among the potential victims are two children, Conner (played by Dashiell Smith) and Bethany (played by Britteny Garcia Pruett), who are actually the most natural actors in front of the Doggetts’ camera. They behave as though they are actual siblings, and even though most of their screen time requires them to merely cower in fear, they do it well and exude an air of genuine dread and fear.
The same cannot be said for the other actors. As the family patriarch Charles, Brian Villalobos comes across as a blander version of Adam Scott. But perhaps the weakest link is Hal Scheider as college professor Rob. He’s required to do some heavy lifting that seem out of his ability here. I typically do not like to harp on acting in low-budget films, but the weak script and his stilted delivery really take the wind out of scenes in which tension is supposed to tighten.
The killers lurk behind a bunch of supposedly spooky animal masks (a la “You’re Next”), a hockey mask and burlap bag ( a la Friday the 13th, parts 2 and 3). But they are seldom threatening, just slow moving. There is one particular scene in which a victim’s naked body is slowly dragged across a linoleum floor that adds a nice, creepy “squeak” as the flesh rubs across the floor. But that is about it for creepiness.
And I will not even begin to go into the utterly ridiculous ending, but add that it features a dog whose name better be Deus ex Machina.
Do yourself a favor and rent You’re Next for a fresh take on the tired genre and let this cabin remain unoccupied.