Perkins' 14 (2009)
Reviewed by Debi Moore
Starring Patrick O'Kane, Richard Brake, Shayla Beesley, Mihaela Mihut, Michale Graves
Directed by Craig Singer
Probably the most heavily promoted and anticipated -- but least seen in theatres -- of the After Dark Horrorfest III entries was Perkins' 14. For some reason unbeknownst to this reviewer, the remaining seven "Films to Die For" played in my town and many others, but not Perkins. In any event, it's now available to the masses via DVD and, for the most part, worth the wait. Before we get into the meat of the review, however, it should be noted that Perkins' 14 was developed online at Massify.com. Writers uploaded story concepts, and actors submitted audition videos. The experiment seems to have worked pretty well as a whole; we'll break down the specifics a bit later.
The storyline of Perkins' 14 takes its sweet time to unfold as dreams and flashbacks reveal that it's the ten-year anniversary of the abduction of 14 children who were never found, the last of which was the young son of Stone Cove police officer Dwayne Hopper (O'Kane) and his wife, Janine (Mihut). When Dwayne reports to work that day, there's a rather strange man in the holding cell -- Ronald Perkins (Brake). As Hopper questions Perkins, he begins to think that perhaps Perkins is the kidnapper. He goes out to check Perkins' car, where he finds bottles of PCP and other oddities. Perkins claims to be a pharmacist and the friend of a judge, but there's no record of him anywhere.
Shortly thereafter, we're abruptly taken out of the station house to focus on a subplot involving Hopper's teenage daughter, Daisy (Beesley), who is hanging out with a group of musicians and self-styled philosophers. One member of this motley crew is Daisy's boyfriend, Eric, played by a surprisingly adept Michale Graves of Misfits fame (who gets to sing a little, too), who leads her off a ways from the rest so they can make out. Just when we start thinking, "All right; enough of these kids; let's get back to the police station," we're returned to the action with Hopper interrogating Perkins in a much more heated fashion. Meanwhile, Hal, one of Dwayne's fellow officers, has headed out to Perkins' residence to do some snooping around. Big mistake! He enters the basement, where he unleashes something -- 14 somethings in fact -- which finally gets the film off and running.
It's at this point where we realize Plot A involving Hopper and Perkins is all set-up and it's Plot B with Daisy and her friends that's what the movie is actually about. And what it's about is Perkins' victims, now all grown up and pumped up with god only knows what kind of chemicals, stalking their prey and rampaging through the town after being kept locked up like animals for the past ten years. Of course Dwayne has to make a choice no parent should ever be faced with, and the consequences of that decision reverberate through the rest of the film.
First off, it must be said that while Perkins' 14 is a bit uneven in terms of both quality of acting and overall tone, the scenes between O'Kane and Brake are riveting. Singer shows his directorial smarts by keeping the character of Perkins mostly in the shadows and not exposing his features, especially his eyes, until the last possible moment. As it's explained to the audience exactly why he did what he did, we almost feel sympathy for the poor bastard. That's solely to Brake's credit as the script doesn't really do justice to the character. Nor do I feel we get to see enough of the "14" as they are filmed in a rather herky-jerky way. No doubt budget constraints were the reason for this lack of focus on these individuals. But money didn't seem to factor into the effects. One big plus in Perkins' 14 is the kills. They are nothing short of lush with lots of dripping blood; faces are pulverized and eyes are gouged by glass. After all the PG-13 camera pull-aways genre fans have been forced to endure lately, it's a refreshing R-rated treat.
There's not much more to say about Perkins' 14 without giving away all its pleasures, and I feel like I've possibly divulged too much already. But knowing the basic outline of the story shouldn't detract from its intensity or the fun of watching two stallions like O'Kane and Brake being put through their paces. Sadly, the After Dark Horrorfest continues to be a hit or miss affair, and this year had more than its fair share of misses. Nonetheless, I consider Perkins' 14 a hit -- both within and without the confines of the fest. Even so, it's still not nearly enough to get me hoping for number IV.
3 out of 5