donderdag 21 januari 2016

Today's Review: Sneekweek

Another week, another review:

Sneekweek - Recensie

Expectations weren't high, and with good reason it turns out. Dutch movies usually aren't great to begin with, but Dutch movies emulating popular American films are often worse. In this case, it's Scream that's being "hommaged". This is a horror comedy made by people who obviously love horror films and have seen their fair share of them. But they've never actually made one before, and it shows.

The plot starts out oh so conventional. A bunch of students accidentally get someone killed in a silly game and do the dumbest thing imaginable (which is usual in this genre): they cover it up and try to forget about it. It obviously doesn't work, and when we catch up with them two years later, the recently graduated college kids turn out to be using not only the fun type of drugs to cope with their shady past. The standard horror trope archetypes are applied to these characters, the likes we've seen a thousand times before. The fact they spend most of the movie either bickering or engaging in supposed sexy slang doesn't make us care at all for them, we just want to see them die horribly fast. For that, the movie certainly takes its time. The masked killer soon stalks the premises of their backwood residence - insofar there are any backwoods in Friesland - but it takes quite a while before people really start dying. Meanwhile, our patience is tested when the kids argue their way from one party to the other, accompanied by obnoxiously loud techno music. To appeal to the modern generation I guess.

And then the second half of Sneekweek arrives. All bets are off as to the identity of the killer. It's not as obvious as you might think. In fact, it's not considerably complicated either, the movie just feels like making it so by twisting things around to such an extent that everybody is suspect. The kills pick up pace rapidly, but leave a lot to be desired in terms of originality or scariness. Not to mention in terms of looking convincing, which they don't. The story quickly turns equally messy, until the final reveal which feels like a big letdown. At least the comedy starts kicking in by providing a few good laughs to horror aficionados, including a memorable oneliner or two. These obviously reference the genre more than they do the movie itself, as is the Sneekweek's intent. The movie's whole set-up is one big reference to the genre, playing with conventions and adding narrative surprises by making things seem different than they are based on what you expect from a slasher movie. Thing is, this sort of film is hardly novel by now. In fact, Sneekweek's prime example Scream is already 20 years old by now, and has been referenced so often that making similarly selfreflexive films has become a horror staple itself.

Sneekweek hardly innovates. It does surprise from a narrative stance, but not in a satisfactory way. The movie desperately tries not to adhere to our expectations, and thus ends up confusing audiences more than frightening them. Unless they didn't see Scream or any similar self referential slasher films these past two decades. Considering the movie seems to focus on an audience of 16 to 18 year olds with its young cast and irritating soundtrack, there's bound to be a few people who feel this horror movie was original. Whether they'll enjoy it remains another question.

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