Hung Jury


2.5 Stars  2009/18/80m

A.k.a. Twelve

“You have been summoned.”

Director/Writer: Michael A. Nickles / Cast: Mercedes McNab, Emily Hardy, Nick Searcy, Steven Brand, Joshua David Nuncio, Joseph Nunez, Jeremy Fitzgerald.

Body Count: 9

Dire-logue: “Sniff hard enough and you can smell anybody’s shit.”

Just another $5 DVD film to fritter away 80 minutes of your life on? Well, it is very low budget but XII is a little more intriguing than most of its brethren. Oh? you say. Yes. Oh.

A convicted killer, who was disfigured by a prison attack, is released after five years (!) and is hunting down the twelve jurors who sent him down, most of whom live in a small dirt track town in the middle of nowhere, California. Evidently blaming them for what happened to him, he’s hellbent on tearing off their faces and pinning them on little mannequin heads. Eww.

XII unfolds slightly differently than expected, jumping straight into the fold with a road kill that echoes the likes of Duel and Jeepers Creepers. An FBI agent (Brand) turns up in town with a list of missing and murdered people and we meet a couple of waitresses, one of whom is instantly marked as the heroine. The other, Buffy‘s McNab (also seen in Hatchet), is her perky best friend and certainly doomed. But she got top billing so I imagine she didn’t care.

The duo become the main focus when final girl Claire figures out that the people on the list were all on the same jury and a brush with the killer sends them on the run and eventually right into the maniac’s trap, where it all goes a bit Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning.

The most interesting aspect of XII is that director/writer Nickles deliberately tries to write around slasher film cliches. In one scene, rather than squealing and hiding in a closet, McNab acquires the gun and phone of a dead cop, locks herself and Claire in a house and locates car keys and a back way out before scooting and fending off the killer with the gun while Claire starts the car and they escape. Awesome. Little touches like this really make a difference.

Budgetary constraints shoot stab the film in the foot to some degree but a great turn from the underrated McNab, better than average writing and, for once, a defined, concrete ending with no sequel-thirsty last second jolt help out.

Blurb-of-interest: Nickles later directed Playback.

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