Available on DVD Tuesday, February 15
Kip Pardue as Mike
Vinessa Shaw as Brita
Breckin Meyer as Tony
Scott Adkins as Carl
Karl Geary as Joe
Directed by Peter A. Dowling
The long delayed Stag Night is the worst kind of horror movie: It’s one that doesn’t have a shred of originality in its DNA and steals from every genre offering made in the last decade.
The requisite critic blurb on the DVD cover of this Ghost House Underground title erroneously states its “reminiscent of 28 Days Later.” What movie this person saw, I don’t know; perhaps 28 Days Later introduced them to the notion of people getting chased in films, because there’s a lot of that in 28 Days Later and there’s a lot of it in Stag Night. But proper comparison would be Wrong Turn meets Raw Meat, with a dash of Hostel and Creep.
Like the Eli Roth’s aforementioned 2006 film, Stag Night features a pack of alpha male douche bags, but you come to find they’ve all got hearts of gold. Booted from a New York City strip club during an evening of bachelor party shenanigans, they venture uptown via the subway where two dancers they had met earlier just so happen to be in the same train car. A dispute ensues between stripper and douche bag number #3 and they all wind up at the wrong stop – one that’s locked up tight and apparently still has electricity running to the lights, even though it is established the stop hasn’t been in use since the Watergate era. (A brief aside. Forget logic in this movie, folks. Throw logic out the window and run over it a few times, when you’re done, light it on fire.)
Once this gaggle of nobodies, that the filmmakers try (and fail miserably) to get us to care for, decide to follow the tracks to the next stop, bad things start to happen, namely, they witness a cop get slaughtered by a trio of homeless men wielding sharp weapons and who have the agility (and strength, it seems like) of an ape. This triumvirate of mangy maniacs – who look like the offspring of Rob Zombie and Raw Meat‘s Hugh Armstrong – are always dramatically backlit by some mystery light source and when they attack, Stag Night‘s camera operator gets super shaky so you can just barely pay attention to their miraculous physical traits. These guys are homeless, right? Malnourished, one would think. Well, clearly they get enough exercise and are fine homeless specimens.
Moving along…those that die from the leading cast are chopped up, munched on and fed to wild dogs while the survivors keep running in circles away from the killers. Meanwhile, they fall into every clichÃ© in the book. There’s the “This can’t be happening” line, the “big sacrifice” one character makes to save the others and to remind us this is all happening in New York City (as opposed to Bulgaria, where Stag Night was shot), we get to see graffiti on the walls that spells out “NYC.” Clever. Stag Night is about as generic as a film can get, right down to the denouement in which one unlucky lady (Vinessa Shaw, who tread similar territory in The Hills Have Eyes) is tied up and, well, it’s all very Wrong Turn-esque.
Director Peter Dowling portrays his 90 minutes of mediocrity as some “rite of passage” tale by setting up the origins of a “Stag Night” and paying it off in the most predictable way, further, he certainly doesn’t favor any homeless people in this film since they’re all portrayed as assholes. Scare sequences are announced well before they happen, although I will say there’s one inspired kill gag. But one gore effect doesn’t make a movie.
Shock has been reporting about Stag Night since 2007, to give you an idea of how long this has been on the shelf. I can assuredly tell you it is certainly not worth the wait.