Lionsgate strikes again! As if releasing Ulli Lommel films wasn't sinful enough, the studio continues to buy up any horror film they can get their hands on. The latest abomination is titled "Acts Of Death."
The flimsy plot concerns the Baxter University theater group landing themselves in hot water after a nasty freshmen female initiation ends in a girl's death. Naturally, the crime catches up with them and people start dying one by one. The question is- who is the killer? A family member of the deceased? A student? The one armed man? (That was a joke).
If "Acts Of Death" does anything, it makes me yearn for 80's slashers. Sure, the slasher films were low budget and repetitive, but they were fun, scary, and had a creepy atmosphere. Modern low budget horror flicks shot on digital camera tend to look downright ugly. If the digital video is used as a gimmick ala "The Blair Witch Project," it works fine. But, a lot of horror elements seem to be lost when shot on digital video. Mood, shadows and atmosphere are often non-existent.
The main problem with "Acts Of Death" stems from the screenplay written by Jeff Burton, Bill Vincent, and Erik E. Hill. Everything that occurs in the film can be predicted ahead of time, thus all suspense is lost (if there was any suspense to begin with.) Not since "The English Patient" have I seen a film move at a snail's pace. The 104 minute running time felt like 3 hours. Another problem, the characters are all slimeballs who deserve their fate. When they begin to die off, you will be glad. To quote Sam Jackson, "Yes they deserve to die and I hope they burn in hell!"
Aside from a role by horror veteran Reggie Bannister ("Phantasm") and Glenn Shadix ("Beetle Juice"), the cast simply can't act. The funny thing is the young cast play college students enrolled in a Theater Group. They are all rehearsing for A Shakespeare play. If these people can't act in a measly horror film, how the hell can you expect the audience to believe they can tackle "Macbeth?" I realize films require you to suspend disbelief, but this is too much!
If Lionsgate is really hard up for horror, they need to open their eyes. Hundreds of filmmakers and screenwriters (myself included) out there have unique visions and stories to tell. The DVD market is first and foremost a business, but quality products are equally important. You should be proud of the films you release. I don't see anyone, no matter how much money is made, being proud of "Acts Of Death."
The 1.78;1 widescreen video is nothing to rave about, but for a film shot on a grainy digital video camera, it is above average.
The 2.0 Dolby Stereo Audio is too good for a film that never takes advantage of sound aside from a pathetic score and lame-brained dialogue. The audio track does have spots of faint/distant dialogue. Too bad the entire track wasn't like this. The less heard, the better.
We the viewer are blessed by getting 5 Lionsgate previews of winners by the names of "Haunted Boat," "Grim Reaper," "Dead Clowns," "Brutal," and "Mummy Maniac." You can also watch the film with English or Spanish subtitles.
"Acts Of Death" is yet another uninspired low budget horror film with an overly-familiar plot. With releases such as this, it's no wonder people are losing faith in the horror genre. The Horror genre is truly in desperate need of new blood.
Film and television enthusiast Nick Lyons recently had his first book published titled "Attack of the Sci-Fi Trivia." It is available on Amazon.com.