When everyone goes home for Thanksgiving, including her boyfriend Aaron (X-Men’s Lucas Till), flame-haired poetry major Justine (The Hole’s Haley Bennett) is left behind on a largely deserted campus, with only a security guard (Mathew St. Patrick) for company. Meanwhile, the search continues for missing teenager Heather Price, whose grisly fate at the hands of a group of hoodies we have already witnessed during the opening credits. Borrowing an absent friend’s BMW, Justine drives out to a convenience store, where a brunette with piercings and a faded red hoodie (Ashley Greene, aka theTwilight saga Alice Cullen) intimidates her; on the way back to campus, the hoodie’s car tries to run Justine off the road. Justine is understandably spooked, especially when she returns to find footage of a young woman being attacked randomly playing on her laptop. Minutes later, “red hoodie” appears in her room, calling her “Kristy” and telling her “she’s got it all.” Sensibly, Justine runs for the safety of the security station – but Wayne is attacked and killed before her horrified eyes by a second hoodie, who seems to have borrowed a mask from someone in The Purge (and then decorated it in Remedial Handicraft class using tinfoil and duct tape) and the head-tilt routine from Jason Voorhees (or a Yorkshire terrier).
In his first film since Donkey Punch (2008), director Oliver Blackburn handles the chase scenes and jump scares with considerable skill, and Haley Bennett makes a compelling protagonist. But is there anything that separates Kristy (previously known as Random and Satanic) from other girl-in-peril, final-girl-fights-back or “hoodie horror” movies, aside from the fact that the film has been blessed with the prestige of a place in the London Film Festival? Well, not really. Okay, so the intimidating antagonists are filming their exploits and putting them online (as in The Den), apparently as part of some misguided crusade against God-botherers (“Kristy” apparently being a word for “followers of Christ”). Anthony Jaswinski’s script is dismayingly familiar stuff, with borrowings from Them (Ils) and its American derivative The Strangers, with a final-girl fightback straight out of You’re Next – with none of the inherent irony that made that film such a giddy ride. It’s almost as though someone simply wanted to make a Them-type hoodie horror movie on a deserted campus, but needed a fresh framing device (the “Kristy” factor) to get it made. TheDonkey Punch director might have seemed a safe pair of hands, given that film’s effective staging and claustrophobic setting, but the producers may have forgotten Blackburn’s tin ear for dialogue.
Speaking of producers, most posters use the seemingly ubiquitous “From the producer ofSinister” credit (referring to Scott Derrickson, who is actually Sinisterand Kristy’s executive producer), while making no mention of the fact that Kristy’s multifarious other producers and executive producers were also behind such duds as Seed of Chucky (David Kirschner, Corey Sienega), Piranha 3DD (Ben Ormand) and Scream 4 (Matthew Stein). Heck, even Sinister fell apart in the third act.
‘Run for your life’ says the tagline. Heed the warning.
David Hughes (@DavidHughesTwit)