Slasher movies seem to be getting lazier. Back in the day you could always rely on a prologue depicting events 10 years or longer in the past, always on some memorable day (Shrove Tuesday is still available if you want gluten based gore galore), and a small town no longer wanting to talk of the nefarious events of the past. Varsity Blood says "sod all that" and has the events take place a mere year after the cheerleading based accident (more funniest home videos than massacre) that is the cause of all this kerfuffle.
Cheerleaders and jocks alike are picked off by a killer wearing the mascot of the local football team. You can’t go wrong with a good mask; think of the Shatner mask that Michael Myers wore, Jason Vorhees' Hockey mask, the various Scream’s and their Munch inspired masks. Varsity Blood's killer has a mask, but it rather problematically, in terms of suspense, looks like a Chihuahua having a rectal exam.
Helgren starts bloody with the murder of a cheerleader, but then gets bogged down in formulaic teen nonsense that takes up half the run time. That the cast look like they have been hypnotised is one of many problems. That they have to spout dialogue such as “this shit is the tits” and “she must be on her period” more than once just adds to their woes. It is safe to say Helgren is not interested in performance (in truth I’m not sure what he is into; maybe gardening). These people, in the main, are supposed to be assholes and unlikeable; the trouble is there is no reason to stay and watch them, as the main response is apathy. Giovagnali may be doing more work as Hannah the new girl in town, but she is so heavily signposted as The Final Girl that you cease to care what happens.
If the cast isn’t asleep, then it is chewing the scenery. Hannah’s mum (Rochon) is pitching it daytime soap opera and seems to believe that Hannah shouldn’t waste her life when a bright future as a cheerleader judge awaits. Rick Youngblood, who has the looks of Jay Leno and the acting chops of a mid range porn actor, does little better as her stepfather.
The film gives us all the excitement of watching teenagers bicker and buy beer for 40 minutes, followed by a hasty denouement at an after-match party. Did I say party? For reasons too tedious to go into, they just end up in an abandoned barn with a few cans of beer and some of Columbia’s finest. No music, no light, no nothing; possibly one of the most tedious locations in living memory.
Low budget is no excuse. There is a cynical trend that cheapjack horror is easy to pull off, mainly because it is ingested by a beer soaked undemanding audience who are happy to see a bit of T & A with their gore. What Blair Witch, Halloween and The Evil Dead show is that wit, imagination and no little flair can overcome the most meagre of budgets. Here you just get a procession of objects thrown by an assailant, an off screen thud, then a cutaway to an actor with an axe or arrow in their head, ad nauseum.
At the climax, a character actually says “damn meddling kids!" Why anyone would seek revenge for a cheerleading accident, which is essentially Darwinism in action, is anyone's guess. The director doesn’t even believe in his own script in a climax so fudged it could give you diabetes. There is no discernible talent on view here that would make you wish to repeat the experience of watching a film by Jake Helgren again. The scariest part of this movie is that the final scene sets up a sequel. Oh the humanity.
By Jason Abbey
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