Farmhouse (2008) - What writer Daniel Coughlin and director George Bessudo are trying to do in this low budget horror flick from the Alliance Group Entertainment group is difficult to pull off. They are trying through flashback to slowly reveal who are main characters are, how they got to this point and then give a big twist to the current story in the film. What is difficult is that the current story of the couple who drive off a country road when the husband Chad (William Lee Scott) falls asleep. Find a farmhouse with a seemingly kind couple and then find themselves in a nightmare fighting for their lives, makes the slow reveals out of place to the current life or death story at the farmhouse. Combine this with needing to hold back certain information for the big twist at the end and you have a choppy story that does not quite work.
The early scenes before getting to the farm are all the background you need to know why Scarlett (Jamie Anne Allman) and her husband Chad are on the road. They have recently lost a child and that Chad is a timid cowardly ass wipe with a gambling problem, actually the gambling is over and there is a paying off the bookie problem. They head out on the road and the writer had a ridiculous need for Scarlett to point out a 20 hour drive is not a good thing is high lighted by Chad falling asleep and the car hitting a phone box (Steven Weber) because they made a point to tell us it was a phone box) and crashing into a ditch.
The two of course have no cell service and have to walk a ways off through the grape vines to a farmhouse in the distance. When Samael (suddenly appears behind the couple only not 10 minutes into the movie I wrote in my notes "Supernatural?". This because at the farmhouse they get to see pictures of a whole bunch of other couples hanging on the wall. It is a give away that the farmers Samael and Lilith are not what they seem. Then there is the fact that his name which he repronouces for the couple as not Samuel but Sam 'A' el is the name of a biblical archangel who in the Jewish tradition is the seducer, accuser and destroyer, there was reason to believe that our writer Coughlin wanted us to figure it out. By then naming the deaf farmhand Alal (Nick Heyman) I think it is sort of Angel name sounding but who knows. Certainly Samael's wife Lilith was named for the cliche evil woman name in so many films. She is played by the beautiful hard working actress Kelly Hu in a wonderfully sinister performance.
In fact I had no real issues with the acting, Jamie Anne Allman is properly cardboard which was appropriate for a character forcing down the hard life experiences of her life. A person fighting to get through a stage in her life that sucks. William Lee Scott had me wanting to punch him in the face through the television, his impotent and pathetic approach to his situation was spot on. Steven Weber with a sinister sparkly behind his eye was just great going between jovial host to psychotic tormentor in a split second.
What really hurt this movie was the structure, at the farm after Chad accidentally(?) sees Samael banging Lil through their ajar door things go from a helping hand to a stranded couple to a robust torture sessions and attempted escape scenes. The tension of the events is well paced but each time things rev up we cut to another flashback that is just boring filler for our two victims and how they got to this point. It is a real mood killer and just ruins what could have been a great fight for survival.
There are three main torture scenes the drowning one which has such a predictable pathetically unoriginal outcome that this reviewer thought about turning the film off and skipping this review. That feeling was also present when Samael used torturing Alal as a way to get Scarlett to come out of hiding. It was very much predictable and too cliche for anyone who regularly watches horror films. The third bit between Scarlett and Lilith was wonderful gruesome in sound and sight.
Everytime there was some good though it was squashed by the damn flashbacks. Not that some of the information in the scenes were not essential for the big twist in the end. The problem is they were slow and informational and that information was enough for the viewer to figure out the twist before it is announced in the film. This is so fucking frustrating we want to be surprised not lead to solve the mystery ourselves to only then have our guess confirmed. Damn you Daniel Coughlin!
Okay calm down there Soresport... Writing a script is difficult, and you couldn't do it better. Give the poor guy credit and don't get too disappointed when it isn't perfect.
No! No! I instead say to Coughlin what Samael says in his toast to our couple (victims) "May the worst day from your past be the best day of your future."
Closing out let me say that the twist about Scarlett I figured out ahead of time. The escape I expected and the big twist at the end, saw it coming! The last scenes seemed straight off the Syfy channel with effect so silly looking that it ruined the ending. I blame director George Bessudo for that oversite or even the productions company. So no this film will not be recommended.
Rating (3.5) 5.0 and up are recommended, In the Zombiegrrlz system Skip It!