I only partly understand the concept of "Charity" if Iím being honest. While I fully endorse the fact that Ďcharity begins at homeí (am currently flogging my wifeís cast offs on Ebay in order to fund this yearís visit to ABERTOIR!) I am not quite as comfortable with placing a bit of red plastic on my nose and acting the goat in public. Letís face it, any fundraiser that for years had Lenny Henry as its poster boy to try and raise money and giggles in equal amounts was always destined to leave certain parts of Africa riddled with hunger pangs wasnít it???
And if I canít be arsed putting my hand in my pocket for a Ďgood causeí there is simply NO WAY I will willingly work for free. But there are some folk who will. Like the six protagonists in I DIDNíT COME HERE TO DIE, the first full length feature from an up and coming, multitalented director in the horror scene named Bradley Scott Sullivan. Team leader Sophia (Emmy Robin) is joined by a group of five volunteers as they head to a project site in the woods, hoping to lay foundations for a potential summer camp. The land was donated by the family of a young girl who was tragically murdered in that very area. (mmm sounds ominous already!)
We have Miranda (Madi Goff), an eager 22 year old graduate who dreams of being a politician. Then there is Chris (Niko Red Star) who has trekked for free to get some Ďeasy poomí (I believe that translates as getting laid!) Julie (Indiana Adams) rather unconvincingly states that attending Ďjust seems better than staying at homeí, while Danny (Kurt Cole) has come along because his dreams of being a writer have been temporarily put on hold. Finally we have Steve (Jeremy Vandermause), another graduate who has a smitten girlfriend and a career waiting for him courtesy of his fatherís plumbing business as soon as his goodwill deeds are complete.
Despite the Ďsite rulesí forbidding any alcohol, Chris instigates a little campfire booze-a-thon when he produces a bottle of whiskey and shares it with the most of the group the night before they are supposed to start work. Miranda is initially the odd one out. She is driven by trying to impress Sophia but has a nagging urge to join her colleagues in their illicit chugging games. Her mind is made up when her snitching on the group doesnít interest the Sophia in the slightest. It proves a fatal mistake.
Not content with throwing copious swigs of liquor down her throat, Miranda attempts to be the first notch on Chrisís sleeping bag zipper. But when her overzealous seduction goes horribly wrong, it results in her requiring an eye surgeon as oppose to birth control! The incident is the catalyst for proof, if it was ever needed, that hangovers and power tools certainly do NOT mixÖ
When I alluded to Mr Sullivan being multitalented earlier, I was referring to the fact he was responsible for the writing, directing, editing and shooting of his inaugural feature length picture. What he has conjured with his quad of endeavours is a highly entertaining flick laced with blood, originality and a few laughs sprinkled over for good measure.
From the very off, the movie has a distinctly disorientating aesthetic with some subtle "grindhouse" overtones. Shades of THE EVIL DEAD for example were certainly present in places, but IDCHTD certainly elevates itself way beyond a mere exercise in sentimental homage.
For a start the characters refreshingly didnít fall into hackneyed stereotypes and, as the crisis started to develop, their individualities actually injected a genuine element of humanity into the narrative. Along with their deepening predicament, a sense of paranoia and eventual all out madness engulfed some of their minds and, as a result, seeped into the atmosphere of the movie itself.
There was humour along the way but this was shrewdly used and Sullivan didnít resort to slapstick gore or puerile dialogue to induce a chuckle or two.
A movie where a band of kids traipse into the woods and suffer horrendously violent fates on the face of it is almost begging for the Ďslasherí label to be slapped onto it. But again the movie surpasses such rudimentary categorization with an unconventional storyline complimented with some innovative gore set pieces. This originality was exemplified by an agonizing scene involving a chainsaw and a face. Nothing novel there it would seem until you consider the victim is still alive and itís not a psychopath trying to eliminate her but a concerned friend trying to release the blade from its snug embedment of skin and bone!
What was notable about the violence in the movie was its unpredictability. It didnít simply follow the trodden path of a mysterious killer picking off victims one by one. Instead, as the drama unfolded and the crisis deepened, the movie allowed for panic driven volatility among the characters to keep the viewer guessing. The gore itself for the most part utilized prosthetics and even when CG was used, its presence appeared to be slickly employed which ultimately didnít detract from the retro feel of the movie.
At a clock friendly 77 minutes, IDCHTD has obviously been honed by its architect in order to create a fast paced picture that grips from its chaotic opening frames right through to its retina piercing climax.
The DVD screener I received presented the movie in 16:9 anamorphic widescreen. With the pictures appearance darting from an intentionally rough nightmarish look, to a more polished guise at various points, the discs visuals had an appropriate level of quality. The audio mix was also highly effective. From the subtleties of a crackling campfire being separated from the softly spoken dialogue to a very effective bone snap when a makeshift noose throttled a neck, the audio was crisp and added an extra layer of quality to proceedings.
Rather disappointingly, the discís Main Menu merely contained the Play Movie, Scene Selection and Audio Setup options, the latter of which offered the choice of Dolby Digital Stereo and Dolby Digital 5.1. I honestly feel such an entertaining movie really deserved a few extras bolted on. Oh well, lucky for you guys we managed to secure an interview with Bradley Scott Sullivan then I guess!
I for one will be watching with interest what future projects emanate from the Sullivan stable as his first feature, while not perfect, definitely exhibited genuine promise.
Review by Marc Lissenburg
|Released by Second Sight|
|Region 2 PAL|
|see main review|