“Everyone’s dying for a wedding invite.”
Director/Writer: Dan Allen / Writer: Scott Jeffrey / Cast: Kate Lister, Lucy-Jane Quinlan, Becky Fletcher, Lorena Andrea, Michelle Archer.
Body Count: 5
Laughter Lines: “Do we, like, have to cut up the body?” / “No! This isn’t fucking Dexter!“
A curiosity emerged in the discovery of this loose remake of the grimy little 1982 flick. The alternative artwork (above) features exactly the same quote from the same source as the DVD box for the recent 12 Deaths of Christmas, another Brit-flick I recently suffered through. What is ‘mind numbingly terrifying’ anyway? Both also feature one of the same players in a similar role. Hmm… Spoilers follow.
That ole ’82 Psycho knock-off would probably entirely obscure were it not placed on the infamous Video Nasty list, although for what reason nobody is really sure, as a little blood splatter and fleeting grue is all it has over a 77-minute runtime and a rock bottom bodycount. Still, the looming sense of dread it boasts meant that I enjoyed it enough to base The Beaten Track on a similar scenario.
Learning someone had bothered to remake it was a strange development. The film is not fondly remembered at all, but the cut-price nature of the plot means that it would be a fairly straightforward task. Or so you’d think.
A quartet of girls (three American, one British) on a roadtrip to Melissa’s wedding in her Vauxhall Corsa find themselves stalked by an intense looking bloke the bride-to-be gave a few quid to as the gas station. When he attacks them with a knife, they accidentally kill him and, against their better judgment, opt to bury the body.
Lost in the middle of nowhere – though in England, this is pretty much impossible – and low on fuel, they call in on the first house they find, inhabited by middle-aged spinster Miss Perkins, who has no phone, so invites them to spend the night and wait for the gardener to swing by, who should be able to help them out. Unlike the original film, our Samaritan doesn’t rattle around a huge mansion, but a relatively regular looking and sized house.
During the night, the women hear raised voices coming from a garden shed: Standard “why are those sluts here?” stuff, and the next day people start to wander off around the local woodland where they’re attacked by the veil and wedding dress wearing killer, who has also acquired the Halloween mask one of the group inexplicably brought along. Only time will tell if the same wackadoo theatrics that were going on at the Penrose mansion are occurring here…
Lister makes for a good, likeable heroine, and there are some decent moments peppered throughout the later scenes as she first tries to escape and then engage the lunatic in a fight to the death, plus a couple of creepy visuals earlier on – the killer dressed in their garb slowly sliding out of view behind a door in the middle of the night is superbly unsettling, plus cellphone lights in dingy loft spaces, and the cringetastic sound of a metal rake being dragged across concrete.
Sadly, much of what I was impressed with sank the film decided firstly to throw in another lesbian make-out scene and then kills them – and only them – off. I doubt this was an intentionally homophobic move on the part of the creators, more a coincidence tied in with the ongoing box-ticking mission of low-budget horror filmmakers to feature hot girls making out in the first place, under the illusion that such inclined straight men are the only demographic worth appealing to. Still, that the only victims are those with fluid sexuality leaves a sour aftertaste from an otherwise okay production, which, with some more cash thrown at it (and a bigger house) could’ve pushed it up the rankings a fair distance; Allen has a good eye for finding creepiness in the ordinary and could be one to watch.
But The Beaten Track is way better.
Blurbs-of-interest: Michelle Archer was in 12 Deaths of Christmas; Becky Fletcher and Kate Lister were in Fox Trap.