Granted, I like horror films. While I do enjoy a good slasher film every now and then, the central story usually tends to be a bit too conventional for my tastes. But with slasher films I prefer flicks to – at minimum – bring something worthwhile to the project. If it’s the same-old-same-old kid picks up an axe and decides to start whacking all of his friends with little or no logical reason, then I tend to tune out just a bit. We’ve seen those far too often before, so there’s little freshness to any of it.
Still … if the deaths are inspired, I might perk up When it all feels like everyone just showed up for a paycheck, I check out mentally before the first corpse hits the ground.
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and/or characters. If you’re the type of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last three paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
From the product packaging:
“This football season, Hogeye High Warriors and cheerleaders are out for blood. Unfortunately, someone is out for theirs and they’ll take one for the team. After the big Halloween football game, the students are joined by an uninvited guest dressed as their high school mascot armed with a bow and arrow, a battle-ax, and an insatiable appetite for butchery. They find themselves fighting for more than the winning score as terror becomes the name of the game.”
Well, like I said at that top, I don’t like every horror film that I receive to review/preview, and sadly Varsity Blood (2014) – despite a pretty killer name and an interesting premise – just didn’t fill out my dance card, readers. The high school bloody murder scene has been done to death, and, as much as writer/director Jake Helgren probably suspected he was bringing something new to the game here, this one fails to inspire on so many levels.
For starters, so much of Helgren’s scriptwriting is just plain awful.
Everything – and I do mean everything – gets explained in extended scenes filled with exposition by just about anyone in range of the microphones. There’s a long scene on a park bench in the beginning wherein three characters pretty much give the audience insight into what happened ‘oh so many years ago’ and set the stage for how it’ll all figure into this feature. Then – not all that much latter – the town sheriff takes a radio call from his dispatcher where we listen to the woman babble on about every conceivable plot point one can possibly imagine. Seriously, Jake, have you never heard of ‘nuance’? I get that maybe you don’t understand what character development is, but couldn’t you have at least shown up to put in work on your own script?
To worsen matters, once Helgren takes off his scriptwriting hat and puts on his director’s cap the picture grinds to a halt. It’s all photographed so blandly that one suspects maybe he was taking his cues from the actors instead of the other way around. The last half of the picture takes place at the cleanest abandoned farmhouse you’ll ever see in film … well, except that you can’t see much of anything once the sun goes down. The picture could probably win an award for the worst night-time shooting ever (though I have seen worst) as very little of the action is even remotely identifiable.
Still, there’s a kill or two that tweaked my interests. Otherwise, I probably wouldn’t have sat through this one to the bitter end … and wouldn’t you know it? They left it open for a sequel.
Varsity Blood (2014) is produced by DAVED Productions and Flashback Films. DVD distribution is being handled by RLJ Entertainment and Image Entertainment. As for the technical specifications? Blech. Well, that’s not fair. The production’s sound work is just fine, especially given the fact that it’s basically a low budget run-of-the-mill horror picture; but the cinematography leads an awful lot to be desired. It’s shot with little to no inspiration for the subject matter, and the night-time videography is some of the worst I’ve ever seen, so much so it grows increasingly difficult to see what’s going on, who’s chasing who, etc. And what do you know? There are no special features. I didn’t miss ‘em, either.
Alas … barely recommended … and that’s a rare rating, folks.
I suppose if you like the teen scene slasher flicks that you might find some modest (and I do mean ‘modest’) enjoyment with Varsity Blood. Me? I’d just as soon letter in something else.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at RLJ Entertainment and Imagine Entertainment provided me with a DVD copy of Varsity Blood by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review; and their contribution to me in no way, shape, or form influenced my opinion of it.