This rollicking open air ‘Escape Game’ of a movie will enthral fans of postmodern horror.
Six strangers rock-up in that most perennial of terror crucibles – the old gas station. All have paid good money to be verbally abused, physically humiliated, hooded, and hurled into the mind-fuckingly realistic survival – horror experience of ‘ Slasher Sleepout ‘.
With gruesome puzzles to solve and a healthy ratio of assholes to overly competitive geeks, everyone is enjoying their slide down the horror helter-skelter. But, when the friction escalates to intolerable levels of burn, our intrepid crew are sent scrambling for the safe word and frantically grasping at the tethers of subjective reality.
This doggedly twisty fright flick is at its most compelling when it genuinely engages with its target audience. Ruin Me could easily have allowed its revisionist mantra to bury the fun beneath an unchecked avalanche of clever-dick meta-horror. However, a loophole darning screenplay, resourceful manipulation of meagre production values and an assured performance from the enthusiastically committed cast keeps the familiar trope trotting from becoming a cliched chore.
Debut director Preston DeFrancis has a soft spot for the many haunted attractions that pepper Los Angeles and this genuine appreciation penetrates deeply into the fibre of his film.
By inviting the viewer to mentally participate in the on-screen conundrum busting, whilst constantly having the bloodied rug pulled from underneath them, Ruin Me cultivates a “Locked Room” vibe that translates fluidly into audience goodwill. A point clarified by the positive reactions during its epic genre festival run.
The quotably self-aware script is more insensitively crass than it needs to be, replete with meta – menstrual mirth amidst the less than covert misogyny, but the heady perfume of genre affection manages to mask the stale musk of cynical exploitation.
What surprises most about this affable flick is its propensity to inlay polished seams of depth into the veneer of contrived stratagems as it probes addiction, manipulation and Machiavellianism.
Ruin Me is sure to make for rewarding group viewing for horror junkies and should find the success it deserves through the word of mouth of the rabid horror community. Many of whom, I suspect, will spend the runtime yearning for the chance to indulge in such a lurid social experiment themselves.
Just like the edge blurring horror experiences that inspired it Ruin Me knows how to faze, disturb and above all entertain.
Bradley Hadcroft |
Thriller, Horror, Mystery | USA 2017 | 87 mins | | Terror Weekend Productions | World Premiere 26th AUG ( Horror Channel Frightfest) | Dir. Preston DeFrancis| Cast. Marcienne Dwyer, Matt Dellapina, Eva Hamilton, John Odom, Chris Hill