DreadWorld Review: Fox Trap (2016)

What's old is new again. At least that's what writer Jeffrey Cohen and first time director Jamie Weston want you to think when you sit down to watch their latest feature, Fox Trap. Borrowing a heavy dose from the stylized, twist endings of films of post-Scream 90's horror (think I Know What You Did Last Summer and Valentine) with a dash of the classic stalk and slash of the 80's (Friday the 13th obviously, but think also a film like the original April Fool's Day), Weston and Cohen wear the influences of these films proudly and unabashedly on their sleeves for the better, or in certain cases for the worse, for Fox Trap as a whole.

The plot of Fox Trap is about as familiar as you can get if you were born after 1980. High School kids did something awful to someone years ago. A mysterious invitation brings all those folks back together under specious circumstances. It doesn't take long for the nefarious plan to kick in and for people to start dying. While the plot of Fox Trap may come off as predictable and familiar, the films execution is what really elevates the film over it's similarly themed retro competitors.

I will confess two thirds of the way through Fox Trap, the film almost lost me. I understand that characters make bad decisions in horror films. Franchises are built on such stupidity. But certain characters in Fox Trap, particularly the killer (or killers - no spoilers), are so ineffective at times it's maddening. The third act attempts to give some rather clever explanations for what has just happened and why, and while mostly effective, it's a lot of unnecessary hard work that didn't need to be done if the first two acts had been treated with more care.  That being said, the third act, despite it's heavy lifting does do it's part salvaging Fox Trap and turning it into a pretty good film.

Weston, as a first time feature director carries himself adequately. He certainly knows how to build the tension and dread in a horror film. He is supported by a pretty good cast. As we all know the acting n independent horror films can be hit and miss, but Fox Trap is absent of any of the cringe worthy moments we have become accustomed to. The film may leave gore hounds a little unsatisfied. There are a couple of moments where Weston unleashes some red stuff, and there is one particularly brutal hammer meets teeth scene, but those moments gore-centric folks may dig are buoyed by a few bloodless kills.

Fox Trap may contain one or two too many characters, which results in a lot of dead white girls, and less in the way of character development. The third act in particular is full of good Scream-like twists and red herrings, but it's also a very clunky necessity in light of the issues created by the first tow acts of the film. .

***1/2 Stars out of *****

It may sound like Fox Trap is a bad film, but it's not. While it does fall victim to some of the things that befell the films Fox Trap is influenced by, Weston is able to keep what could wind up being a tired retread of fresh and exciting. The "who done it" aspects of the film are deftly handled, with particular care given to establishing red herrings and common sense cross purposes. Fox Trap will leave you guessing until its final reveal. More than a sum of it's parts, Fox Trap is a tight thrill ride that will leave you nostalgic for the clever stylized wit and mystery of mid-90's horror.

Fox Trap will begin its festival run later this year and is slated for mass consumption early in 2017.

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