Thursday, August 7, 2008


Something that's always bugged me as a horror fan is the insistence of several films to make their characters as unlikable as possible. Don't they realize that without giving us people to root for or care about--and I'm talking about the basic human response to a person in jeopardy--they're simply not going to work? They're exceptions, as always (author Jack Ketchum is a master of presenting flawed, frequently unsympathetic protagonists and putting them into hellish situations that no one deserves), but because most horror movies are simple Us vs. Something Bad scenarios, preventing the audience from identifying with the "good guys" almost always results in a bad film.

(And while we're on the topic, since when did Eli Roth get the blame for this? I've read more than one review recently which lambasted him for starting the "Assholes as Main Characters" trend, but doesn't anyone remember the obnoxious party-goers from the '80s slasher boom? Besides, Roth's unlikable protagonists are usually otherwise well-developed, and their attitudes serve a purpose in the story.)

This is all an extremely long-winded way of explaining why I didn't care for TRESPASSERS, a 2006 digital-video inanity from director Ian McCrudden. It's got it's fair share of problems, but the biggest is a roster of characters so aggressively irritating and vapid that any potential for suspense is blown from Scene One. How are we supposed to feel about someone who describes a tropical paradise as being "like Mexico without the Mexicans" with anything but passive contempt?

The movie's premise involves a vanload of youngsters who head out to the beach on a surfing expedition and run afoul of a centuries-old curse when they take a wrong turn; pretty standard B-horror material, but with this bunch it feels like a particularly noisome reality series. (Note to the director: while gratuitous nudity is always appreciated in overlong set-ups, I could've done without seeing the slacker dickhead pleasuring himself afterward.) When McCrudden finally gets his story underway it suggests something along the lines of THE BEACH HAS EYES, but what we get is a limp, undercooked serving of fast zombies that don't do enough to make the sluggish pacing worthwhile. (So little happens on screen that TRESPASSERS is a lot like a Snickers bar, filling you with empty calories while providing no true sustenance.)

The film often employs hand-held video, a technique that might add a layer of realism to polished Hollywood fare like THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM, but makes a low-budget outing like this look even cheaper. Worse is that McCrudden chooses to film and edit the piddling action in such a way that it's all but obscured. I'm sure financial constraints played a part, but if you're going to create the illusion of something you couldn't afford you at least need to provide the raw materials so we can meet you halfway.

TRESPASSERS offers nothing of substance; there's a hundred other wrong-turn movies that provide the thrills this movie lacks. Though there's a smattering of gore, it's not even worthwhile on a splatter level. Avoid this one.

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