Here it is! Here’s that ‘special something’ of 2005 that will have horror fans frothing at their mouths and moaning in pure bliss. This special something is called The Roost, which was written and directed by Ti West- whom we’ll all be embracing in the horror genre within the next year.
Ti West’s The Roost opens as a creature feature show that introduces the real movie in which four teens are on their way to a wedding and are lost on some long never-ending road. While crossing a bridge they are forced off the road and end up stranded in the middle of nowhere. All the while a few miles down the road an old couple who own a barn are in their own pickle. The kids, looking for help, end up at this barn and can’t seem to find anybody. They split up to find some help and think they’re in luck when a cop finds them on the side of the road. When one of the teens goes missing their world crumbles to pieces as they become part of a bat feeding frenzy, which evokes more terrible consequences- zombies!
The Roost is inspiring, it’s the first film in what feels like ages that made me want to just grab a camera and get to it! Shot on (I think) Super 16 mm film, the look of the movie was superb and a perfect fit for this type of flick. It was extremely dark, very grainy and a lot of the best scenes were pitch black with just a few flashlights flickering around. I was on the edge of my seat most of the second half of the film.
What’s so crazy about this movie actually being somewhat scary is that it mixes bats with zombies- although the more I think about it the more it makes sense. When the bats first attacked I thought to myself “I hate when they have the killer be a group of random animals- it’s just not scary.” By having the zombies pop up it adds to the density of the film and gives it much more weight. Speaking of bats, for such a low budget picture I was astonished with how well the FX work turned out, although Ti informed us that there were real bats used in the film. And the zombies, they were re-imagined by Ti. They were a mix between Peter Jackson zombies, Romero zombies, Boyle zombie and demonic creatures from hell. Slow at times, with the ability to move quick and a demonic laugh that will guarantee make your skin crawl.
Ti’s directing style and various cinematic choices make this film on the very line of brilliance, but without the score by Jeff Grace and Ti’s own editing job this film could have never been as impressive as it was. The editing job was mind-blowing on it’s own as Ti gave life to his film through various cuts you normally wouldn’t expect- he took cliché and kicked it in the balls. Instead of being attacked and watching the gruesome aftermath, Ti cuts away really fast leaving you to believe he ‘wussed out’ on the gore. After a few seconds in another room, he cuts right back and gives you the grizzly mayhem you long for. This is what I call shaking things up a bit!
Another thing that caught me off guard was how good these local actors performed. I don’t think there was a single campy moment in the film and I give props to everyone in it.
Sure The Roost is a good time and a wild roller coaster ride, but there are some scare scenes that actually had me smiling. I usually get mad when I jump in a theater because the scares are cheap 99% of the time. There’s nothing more annoying than a cat jumping out of sky in front of the camera- why on Earth is there a cat there? Same goes for numerous other random objects. In Roost the scares are of quality and have relevance. When something pops out of the dark or in front of the camera it is part of the story and only adds to the experience.
There’s only one negative to the movie, but it didn’t bother me as much as it did others. The opening, middle and end have segments from this creature feature show with a host leading you on your adventure. I loved how it was used to open the film, but I didn’t think it was necessary right in the middle- it ruined the pacing a little bit and took me out of the film. I would recommend cutting out this single portion, but the other two were fun and clever. I enjoyed Ti’s reasoning for these segments, “[I’ve got $X and I’m on set the second day. I tell the actors to pretend bats are attacking and I start thinking 'oh shit what am I doing?' I realize that this could be extremely cheesy and campy. So I planned out this creature feature to explain WHY it's cheesy in the event it sucks- but didn’t tell the actors so they’d continue to act serious and not campy.]” I’m sold…
The Roost is fun fun fun fun fun and could be one of the best horror flicks of the year- if not THE best. I would give Ti’s film a perfect score, but I need to see it one more time to make sure I still feel that way. In addition, I don’t want to accidentally over hype you, so here’s what to expect: go into the film expecting an extremely low budget, gory, violent, scary, fun horror film that tries NOT to take itself seriously- only it is. I guess there’s no way around the hype, the movie just plain rocks. Thank you Vitagraph for snatching this sucker up for a limited theatrical release!