Anniversaries are about love, about the connection you share with another, the reason you’ve been together for a marked amount of time and haven’t said forget it and ran in the other direction. If a couple is celebrating an anniversary, chances are there’s a reason. Love, respect, trust; no matter how it’s swung, an anniversary is a celebration of companionship. In the new straight to DVD horror flick The Anniversary at Shallow Creek, it’s not so much about the love- it’s about a couple’s desire to celebrate it. And the measures they’ll go to for happiness, no matter how bloody it may be.
On the night of their anniversary, two sweethearts find themselves victims to a deadly game, leading the viewer into following a simple 80’s-style formula as, one year later, med students Sam (played by former baseball stud Eric Fisher, who also wrote the movie) and Paige (Brianna Lee Johnson, co-writer and Eric’s real life wifey), set out for a romantic weekend only to have their plans squashed by four of their friends, including Paige’s brother. The group sets out to the home of Eric’s uncle, only to find themselves in a strange, out of the way place in the mountains outside of LA. What should be the perfect weekend for partying and sexcapades turns into a nightmare when one of the group has a deadly encounter with a sniper rifle. That’s when the story really kicks in.
One by one, the masked serial killer takes out the group of friends. That’s the best part of the movie- the gore. The director really put a lot of thought into how the kills should look visually and it shows. There’s a lot of originality here in terms of delivery, especially for a low budget film, but the story is where it falls flat. There’s a ton of unnecessary information (everything from dead parents to the analysis of a third grader) infused into the plot that detracts from what we really should be worried about- the creepy guy outside the house with a plastic mask and a military grade weapon.
I’ll give the movie one thing- it doesn’t lack for suspense when it finally does hit full gear and the twists and turns are pretty cool leading up to the reveal. There’s a creepy little boy that we are falsified into believing as a victim, the gore, as I said, is outrageously satisfying (don’t ask me how they pulled off a PG-13), and there’s a heavy sense of whodunit that keeps the viewer wanting more. I think that’s why I ended up dissatisfied with the film in the end. Everything leading up to the final scene was fantastic- and then boom, the grenade shattered and left me sitting in a room destroyed of any thought process I had once had. While the motive is an interesting take, the killers themselves just didn’t fit into where I thought the story was headed. It was a nice surprise that the killers are who they are (I’m not going to ruin it in case you feel like pulling your own pin), but the final scene where Paige is forced to choose between her brother and her lover really wasn’t that captivating. It wasn’t that scary. It just, well, it just wasn’t. For a story that had such great potential, the final altercation just fell flat. For a film that was, as many have said ‘inspired by true events,’ I just don’t see the killers being this unoriginal, especially when everything leading up to this moment has been everything but.
If you’re looking for a fun, Sunday afternoon horror flick to watch with your less-than-thrilled girlfriend, this is a safe bet. While the movie does offer a lot for those of us more than obsessed with the genre, there’s something missing in terms of fear. It just didn’t strike me as a classic horror film, but it’s not a total waste either. While the ending could have used something more substantial, the film as a whole is still worth even the briefest of glances. Just don’t plan on making it a yearly celebration.
For more from Andrea Albin, visit her blog, The Albin Way.