Thursday, February 26, 2009

Movie Review: Hallettsville (2009)

HALLETTSVILLE - 2009 horror movie starring Gary Busey

Written by Andrew Pozza and Tim Massey
Based on a story by Derek Lee Nixon
Directed by Andrew Pozza

Derek Lee Nixon...Tyler
Jesse Janzen...Jonathon
Jordan Brower...Mark
Katie Fountain...April
Brooke Baker...Candice
Karoly Giardello...Kristin
Gary Busey...Sheriff David Ketchum

After a bumpy first 20 minutes or so, a group of annoying college kids--some more annoying than others (I'm looking at you, Jonathon!)--head out to the country town of Hallettsville for a weekend at a ranch house in order to rekindle their fading relationships. The plot of land that the house was built on has a bloody back story, of course. It was the site of a school back in the early 1900s where all of the young students were murdered, seemingly by a man possessed.

The strange happenings begin almost immediately upon their arrival, as some of the youngsters start seeing people that aren't there and ghostly reflections of long-dead children. When one of them panics, they are all left stranded to be picked off one by one at the hands of their unseen supernatural stalker. When running doesn't work, and giving up seems their only other option, the survivors instead opt to make a stand.

Many of the characters are pretty much your standard slasher movie fodder, despite the fact that this isn't strictly a slasher film. It's kind of a cross between Evil Dead and Friday the 13th.

The leads did a good job with what they had, and Gary Busey was surprisingly (and thankfully) restrained in his role as the local lawman. It's probably not going to get his career back on track, but hell, it's a start. And he probably works pretty cheap these days. I didn't really understand the point of one of the character's having a friendly ghost that rooms with him in his house. It seemed contrived and, well...pointless. But I guess a friendly ghost is better than no ghost at all.

The special effects that were shown were decent, with a few standout spooky moments (for example, the smoky figure running through the woods at night). The scoring was well done, too. Not too invasive, and in fact most of the time you didn't even realize you were listening to it--which is really the ideal. The background music is just that: background, and it swells only when it needs to.

Violence against children and animals is still pretty much taboo these days, so its shocking when you see it. The flashbacks to the school massacre were the most disturbing scenes of the film, and they pretty wisely didn't dwell on them for too long; long enough to give you a taste, but not so long that you stop finding it shocking.

Overall, it was a good little flick once the characters made their way to the cabin. Prior to that, I was honestly a little bored and confused, and even in the end, not all of the plot threads were succinctly tied up. It's probably not going to top your list of favorite horror movies, but this is writer-director Andrew Pozza's first film, and it's a damn fine attempt. Given a little more experience, and if he stays on track, he could be capable of some very, very good things.

Watch for him in the future.

87 Minutes
United States

A sheriff named Ketchum? Isn't that like a library cop being named Bookman?

1 comment:

  1. That was Gary's idea, no doubt. "David Ketchum," instead of Dawes. I asked him for the middle name but I don't think he got that I was messing with him. He said Lee. I figured since no one addressed him by his name in the actual film, well, whatever to keep him happy and sober, which he was. :)
    Enjoyed the review.


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