Reviewed by Johnny Butane
Starring Jennifer Barnett, Angela Brunda, Danielle Lilley, Sandra Paduch, Mia Yi
Directed by Greg Swinson & Ryan Theissen
Distributed by Anchor Bay Entertainment
I don’t know how many indie films you may have watched in your time as a horror fan, but there’s a moment, usually in the first ten minutes, when you know if what you’re about to spend the next 80 minutes of your life with is worth the oxygen and lack of movement on your part, or if you should consider heading to the gym instead.
As soon as Five Across the Eyes (which just might be the coolest title ever) opened, I had the “oh my God, this is shot on DV” moment of terror and feared the worst. Then that 10-minute mark hit and I realized I was in the hands of a couple of directors who had a very clear idea of what they wanted to do, and though it might take a while for them to get there, when it dawned on me that they had a plan, I was in for the ride.
Five Across the Eyes is the story of five girls on their way home from a high school football game who decide to take a detour to try and get home quicker. As is always the case in horror movies, this is a terrible idea. As it gets later and they get more and more lost, they eventually stop and ask for directions. On the way out of the parking lot, they accidentally hit another person’s car but instead of sticking around to apologize just take off and hope no one notices.
At first it all seems all right, like maybe they actually got away with it, but as is also always the case in horror movies, they most definitely did not. And really, when you come down to it, they couldn’t have planned to hit a more psychopathic person’s car if they aimed for Michael Myers himself because their lives become a living hell for the next 75 minutes.
That timing is important because, for all intents and purposes, Five Across the Eyes is a “real time” movie. Just how they did it I’m not sure, since most of it takes place inside the van while it’s actually moving, but somehow they have two cameras capturing all the action from start to finish, with very few edits and none that show any passage of time. Because of this you’re stuck with five teenage girls as they go from a normal, understandable level of annoyance (they are teenagers, after all) to a panic-inducing frenzy when they realize just how bad of a mistake they made by hitting that other car.
It’s a hard movie to watch for two reasons; the problem is if you experience one you won’t likely experience the other. You will either have an issue with the violence that goes down, both implied and otherwise (and once it’s up and running, it gets pretty damn vicious) or the simple fact that these five girls are freaking out, yelling, screaming or pleading for their lives for the bulk of the film’s run time.
So if all the screaming annoys you (as, admittedly, it did me), the violence will only add to it since you know it’s going to give them another reason to freak out for 30 minutes. If you’re freaked out by the violence, the kinetic nature of the pacing in Five Across the Eyes will likely make it even worse, giving the girls’ inability to deal with their situation in a calm manner (and who could blame them?) even more poignancy.
Points need to be given to these girls, too. Like I said, for the most part there’s very little editing so who knows how long it actually took them to film this. Given that, these five girls, all of who actually look like the age they’re supposed to be, do a commendable job of keeping their reactions realistic. Throughout the film, as things get worse and worse, they go through a wide range of emotions and you really get the sense that this is causing some major long-term issues.
Five Across the Eyes isn’t perfect, but it is a very strong debut for a couple of guys from Tennessee, and I’m interested to see what they could do with more of a budget since they managed pretty well on what had to have been a miniscule spending account for this flick. If you’re all right with girls screaming for 90 minutes, escalating violence, and barely a second of time to catch your breath, you’ll dig FAtE, too.
3 1/2 out of 5
0 out of 5
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