Monday, February 11, 2013

Short Review: 'Stitiches' (2012)

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If you're a seasoned horror fan of twenty plus years then you're bound to remember the golden age of the slasher genre and its no nonsense approach to straight up T&A, practical gore effects and steadfast loyalty to a formula firmly established by prior films (i.e., Black Christmas, Halloween and others). More importantly, you would also remember the unique mean-spiritedness and potent pessimism that pervaded the heart and soul of films like The Prowler, The Dorm That Dripped Blood, Prom Night and Final Exam; an unwavering atmosphere of nihilism that indicated its characters were merely opportune fresh meat for an undiscriminating killer intent on destroying any hopes and dreams they may have had for the future in a pool of blood. 

However, the same cannot be said for 2012 Irish import Stitches, the latest in a long line of insultingly stupid slasher-wannabes that are more concerned with turning what could be a genuinely terrifying set up into a one-trick pony populated by smug rich kid teenagers, hokey violence and enough groan worthy dialogue to make you mistakenly think you've just sat through the latest Adam Sandler abortion. 

Stitches opens with a sex scene right out of a Family Guy sketch: a fat, dishevelled slob (Ross Noble) dressed as a clown and with cigarette in mouth bangs a prostitute from behind in his tainted motorhome. Whilst performing at a kid's birthday party, 'Stitches' abuses the mother, insults the children and almost collapses from drunkenness after a failed attempt at balloon antics. Things then suddenly go from bad to bloody when the sorry excuse for a human is surprised by one of the little tykes and trips, skewering himself through the skull with a kitchen knife laying upright in a near by dishwasher. Fast forward six years to loner Tom (Tommy Knight) and his forever failing efforts at love, acceptance and general appreciation amongst his high school classmates. Naturally, Tom was the one who witnessed Stitches' death all those years ago and is subsequently haunted by false visions of clowns. Could it all be in his head or is Stitches really planning a return from the grave to wreak vengeance upon the little assholes who wronged him? 

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Stitches suffers from the pervading trend in almost all contemporary slasher films of wanting to tickle rather than terrify. I use the word tickle very intentionally for it is honestly the most accurate with which I can think of to describe the hopelessly juvenile sensibility that appears to infuse not only the mindset of the filmmakers behind this turd but also of those who shamelessly pay to lap it up. Granted, the latter period of the original slasher cycle was predicated upon a certain poking of the funny bone by way of gimmicky killers, lame one-liners and overtly over-the-top deaths but it never went so far as to become a parody of its own conventions. From the moment we see Stitches we're made well aware that this is to be a pastiche of the most ridiculous kind. Needless to say, it also doesn't help that the psychopath in question is a clown. 

Furthermore, for all its deaths and copious bloodshed there is not a moment in Stitches in which director Conor McMahon and co-writer David O'Brien attempt anything that would even come close to resembling tension, suspense or a believable reality. Every kill - albeit exceptionally well designed and executed from an FX point of view - is geared toward eliciting the lowest common denominated response in the hope that you'll gawk like a sixteen-year-old stoner instead of being genuinely thrilled or excited by anything effective taking place on screen. For every body that drops the slaughter becomes progressively more cartoonish as if it were a Looney Tunes routine. 

Despite being made almost thirty some years after the fact, there is no respect shown by the filmmakers of Stitches to the formula that would allow a film like this to even exist in the first place. Perhaps if the folk behind this flick took a more satirical approach to what they considered to be absurd subject matter then maybe the film wouldn't have rubbed me the wrong way. Unfortunately, the level of immature ignorance and on show here is so obnoxious that if you consider yourself a half-way decent self-respecting horror fan then you're bound to still have difficulty digesting this junk. If nothing else, Stitches is a gory farce that you might enjoy in the company of several very drunk friends

Oh, and I stress the word very

Dir: Conor McMahon
Writer: David O'Brien and Conor McMahon
Cast: Tommy Knight, Gemma-Leah Deveraux, Ross Noble 
Country: Ireland
Run Time: 86mins
Rating: R18+

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