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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

NOBODY GETS OUT ALIVE -- DVD review by porfle

I just watched NOBODY GETS OUT ALIVE, aka "Down the Road" (2013) for the first time, but it felt as though I'd already seen it a hundred times.  Why?  Because it's an "homage" to cheesy 80s slasher flicks, meaning that every scene is a rehash of a hundred other scenes that were already starting to get old thirty years ago. 

Which is fine, if the homage brings something new to the table or replays the old stuff in a different way.  But after a somewhat promising start in which a teenaged girl named Jenn (Jen Dance) is released after a long hospital stay and encouraged to get back into the swing of things (with Clint Howard making a brief cameo appearance as her doctor), this one becomes almost brazenly predictable.

The main titles sequence is a flashback of some drunken teens running over a little girl while her father looks on in horror.  Fast forward several years, and now the aggrieved dad is said to haunt the woods killing any teenaged party animals he can find.  The recuperating Jenn, meanwhile, is invited to go on a camping trip with her rowdy, oversexed friends, and their destination is--you guessed it--the very forest where Psycho Dad is said to wield his tool belt of death.

Thus, this utterly generic tale lurches into a tour of the hoariest cliches in slasherdom.  Our main characters include two boy-girl couples who can't wait to get drunk and have sex, a sensitive boy to serve as timid Jenn's potential love interest, and a comedy-relief pothead.  After the standard googly-eyed local yokel warns them to stay out of the woods--which they blithely disregard--they set up camp and tell scary stories around the campfire, including the one about old Hunter Isth, alias Psycho Dad. 

To absolutely no one's surprise, Hunter dutifully shows up as soon as the couples have paired off to have some "in tents" sex, and starts killing people in familiar, semi-gory ways while they run around the woods screaming.  At this point, the acting, direction, and camerawork--which have been passable during the slower scenes--really start to go downhill fast.

The rest of the film consists of several drawn-out stalking sequences climaxed by cursory gore effects, in addition to a scene in the killer's cabin in which actor Brian Gallagher goes for an Oscar while recounting Hunter's sad story to a cowering captive.  This scene is so lengthy and overwrought that it's a sure contender for "most fast-forwarded-through sequence of the year." 

The DVD from Image Entertainment is in 1.78:1 widescreen with Dolby 5.1 surround sound.  No subtitles or closed-captions.  Extras consist of a commentary with writer-director Jason Christopher, outtakes, and a "making of" featurette.

After wandering around aimlessly in the woods for awhile, NOBODY GETS OUT ALIVE finally draws to just the kind of ending you expect it to, with a surprise final twist that's comfortingly uninspired.  If you can't control your curiosity and do decide to buy or rent this resolutely artless endeavor, don't be surprised if you show it to a group of friends some night and nobody gets out awake.

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