Sunday, July 8, 2012

Rockville Slayer, The (2003)

... aka: Hidden Fears
... aka: Unaware

Directed by:
Marc Selz

With this low budget film, you know you're in trouble right from the beginning. It's your typical slasher movie set-up featuring two football players and two cheerleaders getting killed, but what makes this grueling to sit through isn't the amateurish acting (which I expected anyway), but the absolutely pathetic dialogue the characters are given. The guys communicate via walkie talkies from separate cars as they prepare to get laid, using (ugh) football lingo ("I'm at the ten yard line!" ... "I'm going for a touchdown.") The filmmakers could have at least given us a cheap jump scare or a bloody murder as compensation. Nope! Just a quartet of off-screen kills that are tame, boring and poorly staged.

Despite the dull opening sequence and despite the fact this film was packaged and re-titled (it was originally called Unaware) to be a slasher film, it's anything but. I'm even hard pressed to even call this a horror film because it's seriously lacking in anything horrific. What it really is is an old-fashioned mystery-thriller with geeky small town deputy Charlie (Circus-Szalewski) teaming up with attractive female detective Amy (Nicole Buehrer) to investigate the aforementioned crimes. What's eventually uncovered is a secret from Charlie's own childhood that turns out to be the key to solving the mystery. Not that you'll really be all that interested in the mystery elements of this film because the whole thing is just so monotonous, derivative and uninteresting.

The highly variable acting and unimaginative direction don't help but the screenplay is what really does this film in. There is literally no original idea to be had in this entire film. Everything is a painfully worn out cliché, from the character interactions to the flashbacks to plot twists we've all seen used many times before. The explanation behind the slaying of the four teens at the beginning is downright absurd at best. Silly red herrings (including your token mental home escapee) are synthetically injected into the film to try to throw you off, but they really don't do much other than kill time. The three guest stars in the cast; Joe Estevez as a sheriff, Linnea Quigley as a batty harlot and a campy Robert Z'Dar as her sadistic partner, all do their jobs in an entertaining way.

Some people mentioned the music drove them up the wall, but it really didn't bother me much. What *did* bother me a lot was the sound quality on the DVD. I constantly had to fumble with the remote turning the volume up or down throughout the entire film. I'm not sure if this is incompetence on the filmmakers part or just a poorly and cheaply distributed DVD. The picture quality is surprisingly good for a film of this budget range and DP Joseph Farris deserves a shout out for a job very well done.


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