The Caretaker (2008)

It’s Halloween night and a bunch of hormone-driven teenage boys set out to deviate away from the usual High School dance and instead take their dates to an abandoned house in the middle of nowhere in an effort to secure themselves some nookie. Quite how they proposed to do that is never made clear, I don’t necessarily equate being scared shitless with an overwhelming desire to get hot and heavy with the nearest adolescent male but maybe that’s just me. Anyway, needless to say, their efforts fall flat as it turns out that the ghost stories they’ve been telling the girls might have some truth to them after all…

If this all sounds like pretty formulaic teen slasher fare that’s because it is. Despite attempting to throw in a few original touches, director Olsen has managed to serve up a disappointingly lukewarm portion of seen-it-all-before horror. The killer, who is given criminally little screen time, wields a fruit picker as his weapon of choice which might be novel except for the fact that every other detail in the movie is annoyingly familiar and hugely derivative.

The morally questionable teens are made up of a cast of complete unknowns and it’s clear that they haven’t yet had a chance to cut their acting teeth. They deliver their lines in one of two ways: as though they’re either mindlessly bored or sometimes, as though they’ve attended the Troma school of hideous over-acting. At least in Troma movies the cast appear to be having fun whereas everyone involved in this flick looks as though they’ve been roped into the project because they owed the director a favour. This brings us to the stars of the show; Jennifer Tilly and Judd Nelson. There’s no doubt in my mind that Tilly was brought on board to add a little ‘class’ to proceedings (and when I say class, I mean the makers thought her pneumatic chest might be a draw) but every time she opens her mouth it sends shivers down my spine. And not in the good kind of way. Nelson hams it up like a trooper but he just can’t seem to hide his obvious embarrassment at being involved.

Despite being billed as a slasher movie, none of the principal characters kicks the bucket until at least the final third and when they do it’s depressingly bloodless and unsatisfactorily brief. The build up is much too lengthy and when we finally reach the payoff, it’s not enough to make up for the hour & change of tiresome drivel the audience has had to sit through in the meantime. When the most interesting (and I use that term loosely) thing about your movie is that one of the most irritating and throwaway characters in it is played by Jonathan Breck, better known as the Creeper from the Jeepers Creepers movies then you know you’re on a losing streak. It doesn’t even reach the giddy heights of mediocrity, it’s just plain bad.

Keep a tight hold of your brain cells and steer clear of this low budget stinker.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

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