Monday, September 28, 2009

Perkins' 14 (USA, 2009)

Definitely not the sequel to Ocean's 13 (2007/trailer).
On the 10th anniversary of the disappearance of his young son and 13 other local children of Stone Cove, Maine, a remote and broken Dwayne Hopper (Patrick O'Kane) appears for night shift at his job as a police at the front desk. His home life has long been a wreck, and he is visibly estranged from his wife Janine (Mihaela Mihut) and their Goth teenage daughter Daisy (Shayla Beesley). In the jail cells are Felicity (Katherine Pawlak), a hooker, and Ronald Perkins (Richard Brake), who was picked up on a traffics violation. His curiosity piqued by Perkins statements, Hopper does some research of a steadily increasing illegal nature into the man’s background, becoming convinced that Perkins is the person behind the disappearance of the 14 children some 10 years earlier.
And indeed, Perkins is the man: harboring a deep-seated need for revenging what he sees as the disinterest of the world in the double murder of his parents when he was a child, he kidnapped the children 10 years ago as part of a dastardly plan of revenge that reaches its climax that very night when, as a result of Hopper’s activities, 14 wild, drug-pumped and crazed teenagers, after 10 torturous years in cages in Perkins basement, are let loose upon and cut a violent, blood-drenched swath through the town. Hopper barely manages to save his daughter and her boyfriend — but not their fellow Goth friends (all of which are virtual satires of the philosophizing teenager) — from being ripped apart at the local Goth hang out, a deserted amusement area.
The three then manage to pick up Janine from the local seedy motel where she has barely managed to defend herself from an attack that cost her fuck-buddy his life. Among the 14 devil kids roaming the streets, Hopper recognizes his son — is there any way to reach him, to bring him back to reality? The group takes refuge in the local police station but the number of the survivors steadily diminishes after some of the killer kids break in, everything culminating in a depressing ending that is perhaps the only logical conclusion to all that precedes it….
Perkins' 14 is one of a series of films developed online at in which writers submitted story concepts for possible development. The idea for Perkins' 14 came from Jeremy Donaldson — who plays Sam, the 2nd victim of the 14 killers — and was then scripted by Lane Shadgett. The choice of Craig Singer, who previously helmed a couple of entertaining comic, entertaining third-rate Tarantinoesque thrillers — namely, Dead Dogs Lie (2001) and A Good Night to Die (2003/trailer), as director might seem a bit odd at first, but the good man obviously has much more up his sleeve than Tarantino imitations, for Perkins' 14 is a relentless, bloody, disheartening and effective horror film that keeps the viewer at the edge of their seat for most of its somewhat overlong 95 minutes. And while one might carp that Perkins sure takes his time to exact his revenge, in truth his motivation and patience is really no different to that found in any number of slasher films in which the killer is formed by some emotionally catastrophic event and then waits an untold number of years before exacting his revenge — like (to name but a few) the mother in the original Friday the 13th (1980/trailer), the brother in Prom Night (1980/trailer), or the killers in either version of My Bloody Valentine (1981 & 2009).
OK, some basic facts of small town life have to be ignored or forgotten to fully accept the events that play out — the biggest being that for a small New England town there seems to be an amazing dearth of citizens with weapons. (Who knows, maybe they don’t have deer season in Maine — Not!) Likewise, is there a police station in the world without a weapons depo? And where is the rest of the world — and why does no one contact it? And why doesn’t it send in troops or at least the State Police? And how small can a town be that has a busy, teeming street, as seen when Hopper walks to work, but can be ripped apart in no short order by a mere 14 wildly psychopathic killers? And why, towards the end of the film, do the savagely animalistic kids suddenly begin to show a conniving and deadly intelligence (and calmness) in their activities that in no way corresponds with their earlier hungry and bloodthirsty rage? Likewise, as always the individuals of the group keep doing things that result in their deaths that no sane person in such a situation would normally do, be it to simply sit and stare until the killer cuts one’s throat, explore a dark and stinking secret passageway, investigate a strange noise while going to the bathroom alone, or simply stand there and cry as someone calmly takes the gun out of your hand and shoots you in the head.
But luckily, Perkins 14 is so effective in its narrative, direction and visual shocks that most flaws come to mind only after the film is over, not while it is flickering across the screen. The acting is a bit uneven — Patrick O'Kane is particularly weak as Hopper — but Richard Brake deserves some praise for the way he plays Perkins: he is truly frightening and disgusting in a cold, calm and collected manner, repulsive in a way that reminds one of a supercilious, child-molesting clergyman.
Perkins' 14 could easily have been cut by about 10 minutes, which would have substantially increased the film's effectiveness, but it is a credit that must be noted that the film, despite its obvious excessive length, still keeps the viewer’s tense attention and also delivers some good suspense and scares. (And it sure ain’t stingy when it comes to blood and guts, either.) A hellish, grisly and depressing ride, Perkins' 14 is well worth checking out... and gives one reason to hope that the other films might also be well worth watching.

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