Axeman (2013/14)



Stop me if you've heard this one before...A bunch of kids (kids being older teens/twenty somethings), usually archetypical stereotypes who would never hang out with each other in real life, retreat to an isolated cabin. There is some drinking, some PG-13 or R rated groping (depending on which decade the film was made). A deranged killer shows up and kills most of, if not all, the stereotypes, maybe leaving one "final girl" for the end, maybe not. Heard that one before? Yeah, it's the plot of roughly 70% of the horror films released in the last 35 years or so. But don't let the glut similar films let you think that there aren't any real quality films in the sub-genre. Friday The 13th, Cabin In the Woods, Cabin Fever, (lots of other variations on the whole "Cabin" thing) all are very cool films. Axeman, unfortunately, is not.

Like I said, we've seen this film hundreds of times before. This time our group is seven folks approaching 30 (although a couple of them look like they could be ten years older) most of whom hate each other, getting together for some reason. They hike up to the isolated cabin, start drinking an fucking. They regale each other with tales of the infamous Axeman. One by one they start disappearing. Then those left split up to start searching for the ones missing, and they get killed. It's stalk and slash movie making 101. And those films can work. This one however, gets bogged down in scene after scene of interpersonal bullshit. For every "kill" there is at least 10 minutes of emo angst
leading up to it.

I am a big fan of character development. If a film maker wants to spend the first quarter to third of his film building character, creating back story, giving you something to care about that's a good thing. But god damn it, shit needs to start happening eventually. And that's the ultimate failing of Axeman. It's boring as all fuck. It's also lazy as fuck. It's a film that thinks it can still get a rise out of having two women kiss. Or using the words like "cunt" or phrases like "dick stain" to be shocking.

Again, there is nothing wrong with playing along with known and accepted tropes. I've spoken on end about how there are really only a few actual "stories" - everything else is a variation of twist on those themes. But at least try to bring something original to the table, and casting a 7 foot ex NBA star (?) in Scott Pollard is not original. It's stunt casting, and the worst kind of stunt casting. It's the kind that detracts from watching the film. Every time Pollard is on screen trying to decide whether to be the silent, stalking killer or smiley, quipping killer, (neither of which he does well) you're thinking "Hey! It's Scott Pollard. God he's terrible." It doesn't help that he's made to look like a fool half the time and an unstoppable killer the other half of the time. He can snap a woman's neck in 5 seconds but then chases another character around for 10 minutes trying to choke her to to death on at least three separate occasions. Why doesn't he just snap her neck too, he's got her head in his hands already? And in a film called Axeman can you guess how many people are killed with an axe? If you guessed ZERO you'd be correct. Congratulations! You win one more just out of frame killing (of which there are many).

Pollard isn't a great actor and rest of the cast isn't much better, but they are certainly good enough to be in a film like this. Speaking of casting, and stunt casting again. I was really looking forward to seeing legendary B-Film actress Tiffany Shepis ply her trade. After all she's the first billed star. Well (spoilers I guess) Ms. Shepis only hangs around for the first 10 minutes of the film, if that. Brinke Stevens also shows up at the beginning and then again at the end. So there's that.

There are ways to make a low budget cabin in the woods type of film and make it look and feel like it's much bigger than it is. Take a look at Eric Englands Madison County (review HERE), which I had issues with regarding the story, but certainly took full advantage of it's meager 70,000 dollar budget to present a film that was slick, had decent effects, and felt like a fully imagined work. By contrast, Axeman, feels like a bad drama with some out of frame killing and computer generated blood interspersed to pad out the already too long 1 hour and 45 minute running time.

Axeman can be found in various Red Box machines around the country.You may even be able to find it under it's original title Axeman At Cutters Creek. Cutters Creek. Which is certainly a better title for this film considering it's completely absent of axe's but certainly fill of cutting, stabbing, and other knifey things.

* star out of *****

As always thanks for reading and "enjoy every sandwich."

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