TAD ’07: Simon Says

Posted: November 4, 2007 in Film Reviews, Toronto After Dark Film Festival
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Cult icon Crispin Glover as twin backwoods psycho killers sounded like a good time but the end result was more trying than fun.

A group of teenagers are heading to the woods for a weekend of drugs and debauchery. However, they stumble on a nearly abandoned town and anger Stanley, the storeowner, by making fun of his mentally challenged brother, Simon. The arrogant teenagers’ mistake turns out to be fatal as the brothers eliminate the campers one by one; their weapon of choice is the pickax.

While slasher films are innately surreal, this film was even too over-the-top for the genre. Even though fans tend to root for the killer in these films, it is unnecessary to make the victims so annoying you look forward to their murders. For example, who would continue searching for a fallen joint when someone is trying to execute them? Furthermore, Glover’s redneck drawl is initially fitting but as time passes, it grows increasingly irritating.

The pickax has potential as an instrument of death and generates some interesting kills to observe. On the other hand, even if dozens of flying axes look cool, there is no logic behind their appearance. The twins have booby-trapped most of the forest but no displayed rigging, however intricate, could be responsible for such an onslaught. A better alternative would have been face-to-face attacks, with a reasonable launch of pickaxes.

Simon Says is the first horror film from William Dear, best known as director of Harry and the Hendersons. He seems to be acquainted with the genre but not with how to best utilize its elements. He mostly emphasizes the justice in murdering the victims and the style of the kill rather than the kill itself.

With a group or theatre audience, the film’s faults can still be enjoyed but I would not recommend seeing it alone.

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