Friday, July 8, 2011

Exit 33 (2011)

Just Hold Out For A Chevron

Loyal readers of Take My Life, Please are already aware that a large portion of the reviews on this website are low-budget horror films. What you may not know is that for every b-movie I watch, there's five that I don't. With horror films being released quicker than a zombie infection, it's difficult deciphering which films will make it and which ones I just don't have the time for. Ultimately, the deciding factor is based on whether or not the film has a catch. Exit 33 made the list because it stars horror legend Kane Hodder, adored by genre fans for his portrayal of Jason Voorhees in Friday the 13th VII through Jason X, as well as playing Victor Crowley in the Hatchet series. What I failed to remember, however, is that Hodder's main talent is stunt coordination, not acting.

Hodder takes on the role of Ike, owner of a "last chance" gas station off of the desolate Exit 33 highway. Known for his home made beef jerky, Ike's place is a bit of a local attraction for hunters who need to gas up and get their fill on his tasty meats. Of course, if you've seen horror films like Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Motel Hell (which this film draws obvious inspiration from), you know that there's a special ingredient that makes his jerky damn good. Well, unfortunately a group of friends on their way to a five-year high school reunion are unaware of Ike's little hobby. They're also unaware that Ike sees his dead wife (who he accidentally killed under hilariously stupid circumstances) and that she urges him to kidnap women and remove their eyeballs for some trite reason. Soon, every gal is being kidnapped and tortured while every man that stops at the station goes, "Hey, what's that screaming noise??" and then ends up dead as well. This proceeds to go on for a little more than an hour.

Mostly filmed in one location, Exit 33 teeters on boring at times. The plot is highly redundant and the film never reaches a true climax. Though Ike is just a lowly gas station owner, he comes off as an invulnerable beast who can't be stopped because he has the ability to throw knives into people's necks before they can shoot him and seems to withstand pain without flinching. While these are qualities that make his portrayal of Jason Voorhees and Victor Crowley so much fun, it's not something you want to see in a guy who pumps gas for a living. All true villains have a vulnerable weak spot, but Dr. Beef Jerky can have his eye stabbed and go on about his business like nothing is wrong. This also limits the amount of tension in the film because once you realize he's unstoppable, you know there's no hope for his victims. The only character that's truly likeable in the film (we know he's likeable because he keeps looking at an engagement ring for his girlfriend) comes into play during the final act, which lasts maybe about thirty seconds. He's probably dead within the first ten. Are these spoilers? I suppose so, but if you're planning on watching this movie, you probably know what you're getting into.

On the upside, the film has some pretty tasty gore sequences, featuring a very gritty eyeball scooping that brought back memories of Deranged, as well as a nasty fileting that doesn't look too fun for the victim. It's a shame that the violence is few and far between in the film because increasing its presence could have easily bumped up the movie's overall quality. In a low-budget horror with very little story, nobody is going to care about the underdeveloped characters. We just want to watch them die a slow and horrible death.

While most horror fans can pass on Exit 33, I'd solely recommend it to Kane Hodder fanatics and those with nothing better to watch. Director Tommy Brunswick (Mr. Jingles) appears to be a very enthusiastic horror fan, so I am eager to see what she can do in the future with a larger budget and better script. In the meantime, I'll stay on the main road and leave Exit 33 for the tourists.

2/5 Stars

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