Director: Craig Singer.
Writer: Lane Shadgett and Jeremy Donaldson.
Massifys "Ghosts in the Machine," contest was won by scriptwriter Jeremy Donaldson, who is the producer of "Perkins 14," and his nostalgic poster, a throwback to the 70s was a centerpiece from which the film saw development. Another "Afterdark Horrorfest III," series presentation "Perkins 14," was given a late March 2009 DVD release and stars two other "Ghosts in the Machine," casting contest winners; Shayla Beesley and Katherine Pawlak. Donaldson, who shot his miniature feature and contest winner mainly with a DVX100a miniDV camera has found most of his influences from films like; "Night of the Living Dead," "The Crow," and "28 Days Later," each of which can subtly be seen in this zombie film without zombies.
"Perkins 14," centers around police officer Dwayne (Patrick O'Kane) and the loss of young son Kyle (C. J. Singer), ten years past, the character is constantly pushing the story onwards, in a mostly slow fashion that brings him in conflict with one of several antagonists, in the film Ronald Perkins (Richard Brake). Through some quick detective work Dwayne manages to piece together the location of his son, after Perkins falls into police custody through a minor drug charge. Hal (Dean Sansone), Dwayne's police partner, unwittingly unleashes fourteen serial killers into the local town after discovering an underground chamber that was Perkin's previous science lab. Minus one killer, who succumbs to starvation in their cell thirteen killers unleash havoc, and murder into the surrounding area of Stone Cove. Dwayne unable to kill his own son dies, along with others in a brutally, sometimes unrealistic fashion, while the surviving Perkins 14 hope for a sequel.
The story spends most of its time building painstakingly slowly in the first forty-five minutes of the film, without any initial hook to keep viewers, or reviewers interest. Finally, finding some legs to run with near the middle "Perkins 14," finds a second gear as characters, who are given brief introductions die off-screen only leaving blood and entrails behind. Unfortunately, "Perkins 14," is mostly for the patient, who will find reward later in Donaldson's blatant homage to the film "28 Days Later." Offering one central story about abduction and the brainwashing of children "Perkins 14," adds a secondary story involving, daughter to Dwayne, Daisy who looks to sow some wild oats in an abandoned amusement park. Secondary stories can often be a way to add contrast to the primary story or to break up scenes and the pacing of a film, but in "Perkins 14," the delivery of such little screen time for character Daisy and her friends comes off as a distraction rather than a clever addition.
Another aspect that appears odd and occurs early in the film is the use of Gaelic music with a setting that would be reminiscent of Ireland, which can confuse as to the location of the film. Other settings that stand out involve Perkins' cellar that is host to several cages, and torture videos, that offer the first few scenes of violence. Shifting near the last third of "Perkins 14," to a police station, some creativity can finally be seen in the lighting and effects of the film. But can a film turn itself around in the last act?
The answer is not really as director Craig Singer from previous "After Dark," film "Dark Ride," scrambles for some late scares involving ascending camera techniques and out of focus shooting, that while interesting can not make up for the previous lack. Working on a shoe string budget Singer manages to pull some atmosphere out of the final sheriff station setting through the use of smoke and sparse lighting. And only a few earlier stunts are given quality camera time, with one Perkins 14 escapee involuntarily ending his life on the hood of a patrol car; later, another serial killer throws himself through a sheet of glass, in order to bare his teeth a la "28 Days Later." Both of these scenes and a few others thrill, but the films earlier sombre tones with a final hopeless, dark twist will make some shake their head at the ending.
A bleak story from "Ghosts in the Machine," script winner Jeremy Donaldson delivers a mediocre production that delves into an interesting premise only to find death and despair in the finish. Hosting a cast of amateur actors, which offers many members of the Singer clan "Perkins 14," does not deliver a full-on horror picture that will re-invent, or expand the myth of the zombie, genre horror picture.
Now, on DVD "Perkins 14," will be looking for horror film fans to snatch this one up off of video store shelves. Although, not standing out prominently from a slew of other genre films "Perkins 14," can be entertaining for those who love a good scare, or a fun night with zombies running free. Give this one a watch and be patient as the film builds towards an anti-climactic ending.
5 Laughing Skulls out of 10.
Perkins 14 at Massify