There is a “Convenience Store Killer” running amok in Los Angeles, killing patrons and shop owners and stealing the security camera footage for his own collection. Our heroes are a misfit band of workers who are having a poker night while locked inside their damaged store (the damage being on the door…so they are stuck until morning…see what they did there?) and soon the killer targets them.
The first 45 minutes of this film feel like an amateur stage play in that there are only two set pieces throughout the majority of the film and during this time the characters simply trade eccentric banter, with no suspense or threat to their well-being. Even when the killer finally arrives to do away with them one by one, the pacing never really picks up. Since everyone is confined to such a small area, there is not much leeway for action.
The script does not improve things as the more presence the killer has the more illogical the scenarios and victims become. There were innumerable chances for them to escape or survive, but none where taken and a good reason was never offered. Oh, excuses were made but they were unconvincing and inspired me to repeatedly shout at the screen for the first time in a while (slashers do tend to bring that out in me). The cameras motif does not help the rampant lack of logic as EVERY inch of the store is monitored and yet we only get glimpses and hints of the slow moving, ungraceful killer (MAJOR SPOILER ALERT: and knowing that Mr. Steve Guttenberg is the one doing the hacking and slashing does not help convince us that he is a sly one).
Really, I shouldn’t have worried about spoiling anything about this film because about a quarter of the way into it there is a scene that features the biggest spoiler I have ever seen written into a film. Here is how it plays out: all of the future-victims stand around and talk about how they would finish off the serial killer (who has a $500,000 bounty on his head) in front of the one character who does not stay with them. So when the first person dies exactly in way they spoke about earlier, you already know how each person will die and who does it all. Its as if the film went “here’s the script, don’t bother reading it, we’ll read it to you in point form and then, what the heck, show you the exact same thing we just read.”
There are several moments that are clearly played for laughs but I was not sure whether this was supposed to be a comedy. Obviously there was no way it could be taken seriously but it so often tries to inject terror that one cannot sit comfortably as you never know how you are supposed to react, which is a major failing for this type of film.
The characters are refreshingly unique for a slasher, which simply means they’re not a gaggle of teens or early 20s pretty people. The acting is hit and miss, as the banter portions earlier in the film are decent but not hilarious so, as I mentioned before, it’s tricky to get into the comedy but none of them are believable when scared so, again, it is hard to get into the ‘terror’ side of the film.
Widescreen 16:9. The picture is a touch hazy throughout. Not awful but certainly not great.
Both Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 are available. For the most part there is a decent sound mix as the score, which borrows severely from The Shining and Alien, is leveled alright with the dialogue. There are even some nice touches such as the sounds of cockroaches skittering in all the speakers is very effective.
On the negative side, there are two upbeat songs jammed into the score that are significantly louder than everything else, forcing you to leap for the remote to adjust the volume.
Behind the Scenes: Done through overly long reminder clips of the film and interviews with the principal cast. Since the film isn’t all that good, there is no use listening to them trying to defend how “unique” or “relatable” their characters are. Especially Steve Guttenberg…the poor fella.
There were some ideas in here that could have been refreshing. I even wanted to give this a better review than I did, but alas, I simply couldn’t. Plain and simple, the rough edges and gaps of logic are not mended and I am left frustrated with this soon to be forgotten piece.