FEBRUARY 1, 2012
There are precisely two interesting things about Exit 33, which to be fair is two more than most indie DTV slasher movies. However, that isn’t exactly an endorsement, and since it bungles pretty much everything that counts, I can’t say I’d recommend seeking it out (seems to be relatively hard to find) over others that you’ve probably missed. If you find yourself watching this before something like Forget Me Not, your slasher card should be revoked!
Anyway, interesting thing #1 is that it stars Kane Hodder as the killer, but he’s not in any makeup whatsoever. Apart from a couple of real life serial killers (BTK, Ed Gein), I believe this is the first time he’s played the main killer in a movie without being drowned in latex and foam. Also, as with Hatchet or whatever, he actually gets to act a bit – his character in the present day is a standard giant killer type for the most part, but he’s got a little son that he talks to every now and then, and in flashbacks we see him all happy with his wife and such. The scenes don’t really gel with the present day stuff in any meaningful way – they eventually tell a tragic story and explain a certain character’s whereabouts in the present day, but how that translated into him becoming a ruthless killer is a bit fuzzy. It’s not like his wife and/or kid were killed by local teens and now he’s sworn to kill them all or whatever; there’s absolutely no relation between these two aspects of his character. But at any rate, he delivers the only memorable performance in the movie, and the twist, while obvious to seasoned vets*, might surprise a couple folks.
The other interesting thing is that director Tommy Brunswick is actually a woman, despite her 99.9999% commonly masculine name. She’s actually helmed a number of films over the years, all of which I have managed to miss (though one, The Remake, sounds awesome – queued!). I guess it’s good to know that women are just as capable of making mindless torture trash as their male counterparts; there’s no feminist angle on display here, as women get beaten with tire irons, have their eyes spooned out, etc. One is even knocked out cold with her boyfriend’s decapitated head (I laughed at this bit). Actually it almost seems a bit MISOGYNIST at times, if anything, as Kane tends to kill the men quickly and even let a few of them go free, while the women spend most of their time screaming and chained up. It’s not a particularly well shot film (it’s incredibly dark, for one thing), but gorehounds will probably dig it, and I hope they take the time to realize that it was a female behind all this carnage.
Otherwise, it’s just too repetitive and bland to really register. The movie is little more than an endless cycle of people stopping at Kane’s gas station and asking for gas. If he decides he wants to kill them, he tells them to use pump 9, which is apparently filled with water or something because everyone who uses it breaks down 5 minutes down the road. If he wants to let them go free, he has them use pump 3, and as luck would have it, everyone manages to pull up to the exact pump he wants them to! A better script would build a little moment around someone using one when he wants them to use the other, or have him try to figure out a reason for them to move their car back/forward to the appropriate pump to see him sweat a bit, but nah. There’s also a subplot about his jerky that never really pays off – is he serving flesh? Is the movie more of a Texas Chainsaw ripoff than previously established?
It’s also one of those movies where you can tell that it was written around actor availability. It’s ostensibly about a group of friends who are going off to a cabin somewhere (Kane’s gas station being along the way), but the friends never interact. Apart from Kane, no one in the movie has more than 10-15 minutes’ worth of screentime, including the “final girl”. You’d think they’d at least have a scene at the beginning of them all hanging out together before taking off in separate cars, but a few phone calls is all we get. Not that it matters much – you won’t care when any of them die, but it’s still kind of awkward that the movie essentially recycles its cast every 15 minutes or so.
The few attempts at humor are kind of painful too. Kane’s character deadpans the truth when people ask him about the strange noises they hear or whatever (“I have a girl chained up in my barn,” he’ll say, and the other guy will think he’s kidding), which is about the closest they get to a successful laugh. Other examples include not one but TWO lengthy shots of a guy sitting on the toilet reading porn while defecating (we get appropriate sound effects for this too), before realizing that there’s no TP so he has to wipe with a page from the magazine. Ugh, movie. They also can’t resist having Kane thumb through a “Fangoria” with Jason X on the cover before tossing it aside and snorting “Yeah, REAL scary.” I dunno, I’m sure some folks will laugh their ass off at that, but that sort of humor just hasn’t appealed to me in years (it’s not even the first time Kane’s done that sort of thing; he played an out of makeup character in Jason Goes To Hell that refers to Jason as a “pussy”). To me, the best laugh in the film came from the woefully bad greenscreen effect during a driving scene, which managed to look less realistic than the one in Airplane where it was SUPPOSED to be a joke! Hahaha, I love that scene. “Ass-HOLE!”
Oh well. Again, there are certainly worse movies out there, but it just reeked of cynicism. They clearly spent all of their money on hiring Kane, and his presence is the only thing that will get the movie noticed. Replace him with some no-name (or even one of the other Jason actors) and the movie has absolutely nothing to offer that we haven’t seen before. The script is credited to the executive producer, which is all you need to know about how this movie came together: Norman Koza had a buck that he wanted to turn into two, and that’s the extent of this movie’s merit. He didn’t have a real story to tell or even an interesting location –it was written by a guy who wanted to spend as little money as possible to maximize profits. Well, I wish him well. I hope the car he bought for himself was worth clogging up the shelves with yet another pointless horror flick no one will remember in five years.
What say you?
P.S. Over the years I’ve developed an interesting ability to instantly spot a character who is obviously being played by someone related to the producer. Sure enough, when two guys walked into the store and bought cigarettes (and didn’t get killed), I instantly thought: “Producer, producer’s nephew.” The actual tie is unknown, but one is listed as a co-producer and the other shares Koza’s name. Nailed it!
*OK, this is just for the folks who saw this already - at the end, were they trying to suggest that the ENTIRE MOVIE was his imagination and he was just killing deer all that time? Or am I giving them too much credit?