According to numbers.com, horror flicks make oodles of money for Hollywood and account for a sizable market share, a little less than 15%. In other words, people love to go to horror/slasher movies. In one sense, slasher movies – whether high-budget or low budget – resemble porn flicks: people who watch porn don’t care if there’s no plot and the acting is lousy. They care about the sex scenes. The same goes for slasher movies. Bad acting is no problem. A poor plot gets a pass. What counts are the slasher scenes. People need to die screaming, and they need to die in unique ways, with beau coup gore.
It sounds sick, but it’s not. It’s cathartic, part of a psychological defense mechanism.
One such movie is the recently released Ditch Day, just out on Amazon Prime for your viewing pleasure. The flick stars Bill Oberst, Jr., Katy Foley, Zach Silverman and Greg Depetro. The producer is Megan Waters, and Joe Hendrick directed it.
The plot, which revolves around Jenny (Foley), is a bit tentative, but above average for a low-budget slasher flick. In a nutshell, the plot goes like this: Jenny got drunk and, while driving home, hit and killed a mother and daughter. Jenny’s father, who is a cop, covered it up. The husband/father of the deceased victims wants revenge. So he works out, gets ripped and sharpens his axe. Then like the dwarves in Snow White, he marches off to take care of business.
Meanwhile, Jenny and a few friends are ditching school to have a party, lots of drinking and sex. Then the slasher shows up and things get crimson.
The slasher – Bill Oberst is great. He’s got that demented-psycho look, complete with cocaine eyes. His portrayal is complemented by excellent production values. The camera work approaches big-budget level, and the audio is clear and crisp. And the soundtrack was surprisingly good – lots of good heavy metal and a few pop tunes to drive the visuals. A band I recently reviewed, Swirl, provides tunes on the soundtrack. I would have liked to see them include a couple of tongue-in-cheek-paradoxical tunes a la Quentin Tarantino. For example, when the Goth chick is fighting the slasher, the Bay City Rollers doing “Bye Bye Baby” would be a nice touch.
Speaking of nice touches, the slasher’s obsession with apples is effective. Kind of a Biblical analogy: Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden choosing to take a bite out of the apple. The slasher does the same thing, opting for sin and evil. Plus, it’s interesting to see him constantly gnawing on an apple, or shoving an apple in someone’s mouth.
The gore scenes in Ditch Day demand acknowledgement. Whoever the FX people are on the flick, they did a great job. This level of special effects is usually reserved for big budget movies. Where the movie failed to thrill me was Jenny. With all due respect, Katey Foley doesn’t quite hack it as a Scream Queen. Her panic-mode lacks believability. And rather than coming across as psychologically damaged goods in the flick, she came across as quasi-bitchy. It’s hard to empathize with the main character, when you’re secretly hoping that the slasher takes care of her next.
Overall, Ditch Day is a good movie; and as a low-budget slasher flick it’s excellent. It’s not one of those so-bad-that it-is-good horror flicks. Nope, it’s strong enough to stand on its own. I’d love to see a sequel. And it could happen. The slasher, who appeared to drown at the end, could have survived and return to wreak more bloody mayhem. Hope springs eternal!
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