Let’s begin with a nod to director Peter Herro, who made the slasher film WTF! on a shoestring budget that is more Gucci than gauche. Everything — from the slick opening credits to the artsy closing crawl — comes across with style more befitting a major studio production than a low-rent indie.
In that sense, Herro is a hero.
But as we all know, style over substance is a losing ticket. And this is a predictable horror flick that does nothing to advance the genre: Young, horny, stoner friends celebrate spring break at a cabin in the woods. They’re doomed, of course.
Tell me you haven’t seen THAT before.
Still, to be fair, Herro and his cast — led by Callie Ott as the neurotic Rachel — manage to inject just enough witty dialogue and thespian skill into this tired plot to make it a nice little diversion.
So, on with the show.
Rachel has to be talked into the trek to this remote cabin (actually, it’s more a mansion) because she’s still recovering from a personal nightmare, in which she witnessed the gruesome murders of several friends. Her frequent flashbacks not only impair her mental health, they make her the Debbie Downer of our misfit crew.
That crew includes her brother Toby (Nick Reilly), her abusive, cheating boyfriend Sam (Johnny James Fiore), video game junkie Bevan (Adam Foster), the feisty and oversexed Lisa (Sarah Agor), vanity poster child Bonnie (Andrea Hunt) and bong buddy Jacob (Benjamin Norris). It’s quite the collection of beauty, brawn and burned-out brain cells, none of which will serve them well when the blood spills.
As you might expect, our gang is warned about the dangers of this remote location. They make a motel/shopping stop along the way and hear an old man’s advice: “I wouldn’t go there if I was you.” But, sex with a couple of hillbilly girls, cannabis, alcohol … well, you get the picture. Onward, upward.
After arriving at the bucolic getaway home, it’s more of the same, but with an uptick in personality clashes. Rachel doesn’t want to play when everyone gets naked and jumps in the pool, so she hustles off to the house. Bonnie elects to depart, too, but finds a curiously placed nail in her way, which punctures her foot and leads to the best blonde bimbo line of the movie: “Shouldn’t I get a technical shot or something?”
Now, we’re in the sticks, right? So, their cell phones are worthless. And when Bevan later that night is the first to meet his fate, which correlates with the brutal video game he’s been playing, we get more predictability. The cars have been disabled, of course.
There are no saviors in this gang. What erupts is a mostly comical, occasionally scary one-for-one, none-for-all splatterfest. And the manner of death inflicted by the killer generally befits the killee.
The best part of WTF! Is director Herro’s willingness to let the audience enjoy — yes, enjoy — watching this all unfold. It’s the beauty of having not a single likable character in the mix. To that end, his cast lets loose with abandon, not only in displaying their acting chops but in the sense of chewing scenery like there’s no tomorrow.
And, of course, there isn’t. Well, except for one of our stars. And therein lies the movie’s twist, which isn’t all that hard to figure out but still a little fun and sinister all at once.
The pacing and dialogue make this a better movie than you’d expect, not to mention characters that are fairly well drawn out, shown here both as familiar and despicable. None of this makes it any more substantive or less predictable, but it does, ultimately, serve to satisfy. And what the f***, who can ask for more than that?
Watch for WTF! on VOD August 1.