City of Dead Men (2016)

City of Dead MenStarring Jackson Rathbone, Diego Boneta, Maria Mesa

Directed by Kirk Sullivan

Director Kirk Sullivan’s slightly-supernatural thriller, City Of Dead Men, upon first looks, promised some ultra-creepy instances and visual thrills, but once all was said and done, the delivery just wasn’t there, and left me feeling a little…I guess “dead” would be the word.

Starring Jackson Rathbone (Twilight) as a military brat named Michael that’s spent a little time both here in the states, and in Medellin, Columbia. When his mother passed, he was shuffled off to live with a soldier-dad that couldn’t have given a deuce about his existence, making for an otherwise uncomfortable upbringing. Well, he’s now back in the Colombian forefront, and his means of making it through the days consist of some shady doings with his share of less-than-legal entities, and eking out his nights in the backseat of a vehicle on the street – glitz and glamour this isn’t, for sure. One night, he’s managed to piss off someone who feels that payback comes in fist-sized doses, and he’s rescued by a woman named Melody (Mesa) who leads him to a little party at an abandoned mental hospital – yes, because that’s ALWAYS the smartest move to make. Upon arriving, he’s introduced to the eerily malevolent stranger known only as Diego (Boneta). He acts as a leader to some wayward youths, and just gives off the vibe as if he’s meant to do damage in a myriad of ways.

Almost acting in a Lost Boys sense, Michael is offered up a place to crash, all for the promise that he’ll “be one of us” – sounds familiar, doesn’t it? His passage into his rightful place of one of the “dead men” relies on a small death, ritual-style, and after all’s said and done, he’s free to party like a rock-star, without the notoriety, safety, or money at his back. However, something isn’t on the up-and-up with this new group he’s running with, and Michael will soon find out what evil lies on the other side, opening up a disturbing peek into not only his past, but future as well. The sad thing is, that when this film finally does get to trucking along, we’re slammed into a brick wall of progression – anxious to see just where this is heading? TOO BAD, as you’re stopped in your search for enlightenment before the opportunity to uncover some real truth is presented – nothing like a big ol’ missed opportunity to sift through some plot rubble, but what can you do? Rathbone does offer up an interesting performance as the maligned Michael, but the biggest flaw here was the portrayal of Diego: so much more could have been done with Boneta’s performance, yet it really seemed as if he was limping through this one. Scares do come at a moderate clip, and with the glowing eyes of the masses echoing Carpenter’s The Fog, the tribute to a master is firmly being paid, unfortunately the pockets in which to pay more were filled with too many holes – take a pass on this one.

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Matt Boiselle

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