Reviewed by The Foywonder
Starring Georgia Mackenzie, Mark Wilson, Pascal Langdale, Julia Ballard, Annabelle Wallis, Joanna Bobin
Directed Luis Camara
Distributed by Dimension Extreme
A professional looking production, competently made and acted, but sorely lacking much by way of originality, imagination, or scares, thus making for an inoffensively mediocre horror film: with a pedigree like that it’s hard to believe that Steel Trap wasn’t one of the “8 Films to Die For” released to DVD this past week. Hey, Steel Trap is still awaiting DVD release so there’s still time for it to make the cut for the 2008 Afterdark Horrorfest.
A handful of pseudo-celebs (a television cooking show host, a former child star, an advice columnist, a TV exec, etc.) attending a New Year’s Eve party in a high rise building receive text messages inviting them to an even cooler and more exclusive party on the 27th floor. Can’t say I blame them for accepting the offer because the party they were already at looked deadly dull to me. But not as deadly as the party on the 27th floor will prove to be.
On that 27th floor they’ll find what looks like the set-up for a kiddy birthday party and individualized name plates for each of them with insults like “heartless”, “loser”, “pig”, and “two-faced bitch” attributed to them. The “pig” brought a trampy groupie with him so she’ll get added to the death list for the sin of “partycrashing”.
Despite multiple warning signs that all is not as it appears, none of these successful people have the good sense to think leaving immediately would be a good idea. Three of them even speculate they might be on a hidden camera show and then turn right around and start snorting cocaine in plain view which would have been recorded for the world to see had their hidden camera show theory been correct. Rest assured that this won’t be the last time characters in this movie make really stupid life choices.
Nursery rhyme riddles give them clues and balloons act as directional guides to various areas with differently themed decorations, all of which they believe is part of some bizarre party game. They’re more than willing to go along with the senseless game until they realize they’re trapped on the 27th floor and being systematically killed by a masked slasher dressed like the unlikely lovechild of Snake Eyes and Destro.
The uninspired and surprisingly anemic means by which the killer kills them correlates to the individual insults on their name tag; “pig” gets slaughtered like a pig and “heartless” gets… you can probably figure out what happens to that one. Too bad somebody wasn’t labeled “asshole” because I’d have loved to see what sort of means of death the killer would have cooked up for them.
The killer’s gimmicky game proves to be truly senseless, ultimately amounting to nothing more than a plot device the screenwriter came up with and not something that leads to a logical endgame. All it leads to is a truly insipid, out of left field, last second twist regarding the killer’s true identity is revealed. It’s an eye-roller, for sure.
In between looking for a way out, pondering who is doing this to them and why, trying not to get killed, and screaming in horror when someone does, Steel Trap is one of those horror movies we all know and love where the characters spend an inordinate amount of time arguing amongst themselves, overstating the obvious, and more often than not making the dumbest decisions imaginable in order to ensure their slaughter goes on. In some ways it’s nice to know that even characters in a slasher flick past teen and college age can still behave like counterproductive numskulls determined to shorten their life expectancy.
Though it started off feeling like it was going to retread Saw II territory with random people trapped in a location being fed clues by a mystery person watching via close circuit television, Steel Trap morphed into a bit of a hybrid once the killer dressed like a Cirque du Soleil ninja started slashing them, or in many cases, luring them into some sort of death trap, all the while playing mind games designed to get them to turn on each other – rather easily I might add. And none of this is executed (pardon the pun) with an ounce of real ingenuity or a drop of suspense. The director clearly has the technical know-how to shoot a scene that looks good but making what he’s shooting feel like it matters is another issue entirely.
Even the high rise setting is disappointingly underutilized. Contrary to the “surviving each floor is the name of the game” tagline everything takes across only two or three floors of the building.
Saw II + P2 + (insert generic slasher movie title here) = Steel Trap amounts to little more than a marginal slasher movie that by its halfway point was rapidly running out of steam, and keep in mind it was merely puffing along on fumes in the first place. The competence of the production values and strength of the acting are the only things keeping this instantly forgettable fright(less) flick from being a completely lost cause. Then again, that climactic reveal was so asinine I’d have preferred it been lost.
One last word of advice to any screenwriters reading right now: “This gets dumber and dumber” is not the sort of line of dialogue one should ever have a character mutter in a movie like this.
2 out of 5
2 1/2 out of 5
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