Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Hold Your Breath But Press Play: A Movie Review

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*there are spoilers here.

Director: Jared Cohn.

Writers: Geoff Meed and Kenny Zinn.

Cast: Katrina Bowden, Randy Wayne, Erin Marie Hogan, Steve Hanks, Brad Slaughter, Seth Cassell, Darin Cooper, Jordan Pratt-Thatcher and Lisa Younger.

Hold Your Breath, or for those in the Twitterverse #HoldYourBreath, is remarkable for being one of the first films to premiere in theatres from production company The Asylum. As a horror film, Hold Your Breath is not truly remarkable in itself. However, the film is still a fun watch, despite some moronic characters. Is having sex in a morgue really a good idea? The film's ending stands out for offering some interesting suspense, while the film's supernatural rules ground the film in a dramatic reality. Hold Your Breath is a popcorn movie that will entertain most horror fans.

The story begins with seven characters heading out on the proverbial camping trip. Johnny (Randy Wayne), Jerry (Katrina Bowden), Natasha (Erin Marie Hogan), Tony (Brad Slaughter), Kyle (Seth Cassell), Heath (Jordan Pratt-Thatcher) and Samantha (Lisa Younger) each play a character type. Kyle is the stoner, Heath is the intellectual and so on. The female characters are fairly generic, but everyone is out to have a good time. Then, they pass a graveyard and someone does not hold their breath! The ol' wive's tale or myth states that you should hold your breath when passing a cemetery, but the stoner is too busy loading his pipe to notice. A killer possesses his body and soon, Kyle turns murderous. The spirit passes between characters, until a cryptkeeper comes to help. A final supernatural battle does not resolve the film's story and the killer is still killing late into the film.

The characters are an element that make this title fun. Kyle, the stoner, is the comic relief of this picture. His spasms during a nightmare create for a few laughs. The actor who plays Kyle, Seth Cassell, is probably the best of the bunch in regards to acting, in this film. As well, the golden boy, Johnny, keeps the film moving forward. He keeps the characters focused, when he manages to keep his clothes on. The character Tony is also realistically malevolent, when he later becomes possessed. Brad Slaughter's character has a scene that matches his name well. He cuts one woman in half. From the female cast, only Erin Marie Hogan as Natasha stands out. Hogan is able to bring some emotion to her character, when she is not also disrobing. The other female characters, including Katrina Bowden as Jerry, do not bring much to the film, other than an egg-beater killing, or a cat fight or two. The female characters needed a backstory or more prominent lines to help flesh out their performances.

The rules in the film kept the film together in a fictional reality. The rules, such as they are, include the aforementioned ol' wive's tale. As well, the spirit of the serial killer can jump from body to body, much like in Gregory Hoblit's Fallen (1998), if the character being possessed has had murderous thoughts. Apparently, all of the characters but one have had fatalisitic fantasies at some point. The final rule involves the killer's window of opportunity. Dietrich, the killer, can only leave the graveyard once a year, on the anniversary of his execution. All of these rules are followed consistently in the writing. Unfortunately, these rules do not help many of the characters survive the film.

The ending was one element that this viewer enjoyed. A supernatural battle in a graveyard is inconclusive. Three survivors almost escape, but horror films love to end tragically. Thus, a final enucleation (eye-gouging) occurs and this ending was a little surprising. Also, the final moments for one character are undocumented and the film ends as it should, without filling in every single blank.

Hold Your Breath is an entertaining film, even though certain characters come across as flat. The inclusion of one strong, central female character would have helped develop the interactions within the group. The supernatural rules help keep the writing focused on the characters and on how they can overcome a looming supernatural force. Overall, this title is a satisfying thrill ride that will leave most happy and some even terrified, or shocked.

Overall: 7 out of 10 (the acting is decent across the board, some story elements come across as soft core, the ending is well done and the film's rules are adhered to, there is plenty of t & a for horror fans).

*the film is currently available through video-on-demand.

**Hold Your Breath will be released on DVD and Blu-Ray January 22nd, 2013.

The film's official website is here, with a trailer:

Hold Your Breath's Official Website

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