I’m always a bit reluctant to review movie screeners sent to me by teenage directors. Partly, because, I remember full well being 19 and thinking that everything I created was absolutely genius. That I was a brilliant rebel punk artist and the world simply did not appreciate the “message” I was screaming from the rooftops. It’s probably a very good thing that I did not have access to a video camera back then or I quite possibly would have started making films of my own and, being as brazen as I was, mailing them out to review sites thinking I would be “discovered” as the next great American filmmaker. It’s a good thing, because, much like the DVD’s I often receive from young filmmakers, I would probably had my work, along with my heart, ripped to shreds and handed back to me in a plastic trash bag. Thus, I am usually very hesitant to write a brutally honest review of such a young team of filmmakers’ first endeavor. Then again, I always say, if you don’t want to hear the truth, don’t go looking for it. Director Cameron Munson has come looking for the truth, so I will do my best to give it to him, bloodied trash bag and all.

Contrary to popular belief, one of the hardest film styles to successfully pull of is the slasher film. It astounds me to no end the vast number of people who seem to think that if they’ve seen a few slice-and-dice classics then they have a firm understanding of what it takes to create a cult hit. But let me reassure you, just because you happened to scrounge your pennies to buy enough fake blood to wash your car with and you have a couple of girlfriends willing to take their tops off in a few scenes, it does NOT mean you have the vaguest grasp on the world of the classic slasher film. You still have to have an original idea at the core of the film and the ability to actually scare people. I know, I know, it’s a novel idea and one that I just don’t know if the world is truly ready for: a horror film that scares people! Slasher films usually also have a dark humor to them, and as I have stated time and time again, dark humor is extremely hard to pull off successfully, but when done correctly, it can leave the audience chuckling uncomfortably and squirming in their seats. Another pet peeve of mine, because I LOVE a good slasher film, is the topic of special effects. I realize that not everyone has a multimillion dollar budget to hire Greg Nicotero, but my gods, take the time to hone your skills so that it doesn’t look like you ran over to the Halloween Superstore on your lunch break for a few discount props! Some of the best special effects I’ve seen were done on a shoe-string budget so its no excuse. And if you don’t have the budget OR the skill to pull off a good effect, you MUST rely on the terror of what you cannot see. You don’t have to show someone’s guts literally being ripped out of their stomach to make the audience BELIEVE it’s happening. But, that takes directorial skill and a few good actors…Well, what can I say? Sometimes it’s just a no-win situation. Which brings me to the latest movie review of STALKED by director Cameron Munson…

In Munson’s latest cinematic venture, STALKED, he takes the audience on a twenty-six minute ride through the corn fields of a small rural town called Foliage, a town being terrorized by a legendary cannibalistic farmer named, you guessed it, Farmer Bill. Four teenage friends decide to have a little fun on “Mischief Night” in Bill’s territory only to wind up becoming old Bill’s next carving project…

Considering this film is only twenty-six minutes long, I was astounded when I reached the fifteen-minute mark and simply couldn’t bear watching the rest of the film. I’ve watched more than a few hundred bad films in my time and only a handful have made me groan to the point of turning the DVD off or walking out of the theater midway through. Unfortunately, I can now add STALKED to this limited list. Not only is the whole corn-field-psycho-farmer-legend so completely passé, watching badly directed chop-shop scenes of pot-smoking blasé teenagers is just Sunday-afternoon-on-the-couch snooze material for me. It’s been done…and done…and done…and done again! Unless you’re going to blow my socks off with a really sick and demented twist to the plot or an original take on the folkloric legend, it’s just a waste of time. I’m a hardcore horror fan and, I’m both saddened and pleased to say, it takes A LOT to scare me. I just don’t understand why a director would waste the tremendous amount of blood, sweat and tears that goes into the creation, production and promotion of a movie that has all of the creative substance of a bag of Lays potato chips? Stop before you rush into a project, stand back and truly take a look at it. Just because it’s completed, burned to a DVD and has a label slapped on the front cover, doesn’t mean it’s something you want the world to judge you by. It’s never worth putting out half-baked ideas. Take the time to create something memorable, something truly unique so that it isn’t simply relegated to the far corners of someone’s desk drawer to be forgotten.

All of this ranting and raving aside, Cameron Munson is a young director and I am sure that STALKED will not be the last film we see from him. If he tries his hand again at horror I hope he will take the time to watch more good horror films, read more classic horror literature and study what differentiates the cult hits from the forgettable masses. He obviously has the dedication needed to complete a project. I just would like to be able to watch his next DVD from beginning to the end.

Apologies, Munson, for the trash bag full of blood and guts…

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