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Review: Stoker Hills

Bruce Willis has a lot to answer for. He’s currently turned the brief appearance in a movie to give it some gravitas to new levels, so much so that we are staring to see it with other fairly well known actors. Stoker Hills utilises Tony Todd (Candyman) who follows the template. Is in the film for around 10 minutes but because of his horror icon status, it implores people to check it out.

Three college students, Ryan (David Gridley – Lady Driver), Erica (Steffani Brass – Six Feet Under) and Jake (Vince Hill-Bedford – American Fighter) set out to make a horror movie in their isolated small-town, but their film quickly takes a deadly turn, and they find themselves plunged into a hellish nightmare – something way more chilling than they could ever have imagined.

When two detectives find footage of the students’ abduction, they must delve into the terrifying tapes and look for clues to save the missing trio before it’s too late. The investigation leads them to the outskirts of Stoker Hills where they find an unimaginable hell.

Low budget horror movies can be really hit and miss. Stoker Hills flits on both sides. With its found footage style the students set off to make the movie that goes south pretty quickly. It then tries to draw you in with the what has happened to out protagonists and what grisly fate awaits them. However, the lead characters in Ryan (David Gridley) and Jake (Vince Hill-Bedford) aren’t particularly likeable therefore you have no sympathy for their fate. Add in some of the worst and heavily overused shaky-cam to reinforce that this is student made type of set up becomes tiresome very quickly. If it wasn’t for Steffani Brass as Erica, the film would be a dead loss. But it isn’t. Well not quite.

Throw in some really very terrible dialogue and the films opening half is a bit of a slog. But then something very strange happens and at the half way point Stoker hills pivots into a Saw type affair with some graphic and messy gore. While the tonal shift is very odd, the film does at this point get more watchable and interesting.

Director Benjamin Louis clearly has an idea of what he wants Stoker Hills to be , however its translation to the screen, simply doesn’t always work. Then just as the film is working towards what feels like will be the big ending, Louis then throws in a character out of the blue (Tyler Clarke) who wanders into a scene and because of the set up and a head scratching how did she suddenly appear? Then throws the upcoming twist to the wind, which you with your fading faith hope they don’t pull the trigger on, but then just to confirm your worst fears, sledgehammer it home which will elicit groans from even the most hardened horror fan.

There is a kernel of a decent low budget horror in Stoker Hills, unfortunately it doesn’t bring the correct heat to really pop. But it does have it moments that make it worth a look if your into low budget slasher type movies. But Stoker Hills simply doesn’t merit the faith that you want to put into it.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Stoker Hills Is AvailAble On Digital 28th April

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