Coffin Rock (2008)

Coffin Rock is a movie of two halves. One half is a slow-burning drama with a lurking danger, while the other half is a tense, slightly disturbing thriller / horror. It is well made, yet so startlingly unoriginal that it will never be thought of as great or innovative. Solid work, but easily forgotten.

Jessie and Rob Willis are desperate to have a child, but all their efforts have proved fruitless. In one drunken night of stupidity, Jessie sleeps with a weird young Irishman called Evan, a newcomer to their quiet seaside town. This proves a horrendous mistake as Evan’s insane obsession with Jessie is revealed and the situation spirals horribly out of control.

The first half of Coffin Rock is almost daytime television in quality, but the second half is a tense horror / thriller. From the initial chatting and shouting and usual dramatic business the first hour gives, it is followed by assault, kidnap and tattoo-biting in a disturbingly realistic portrayal of actions meeting consequences in the harshest of ways. This film should be shown to any potential cuckolder and affair-seeker to teach them that even one drunken fling could lead to a whole host of hellish situations.

The story for Coffin Rock is unoriginal at best, embarrassingly clichéd in others, and without the solid performances throughout and the cleverly escalating level of Evan’s psychosis, it would slip into being derivative and lazy. It is certainly watchable, enjoyable entertainment, but not something we haven’t seen before in the many “stalker gone crazy” movies and TV episodes that have been created.

Coffin Rock is promoted as a horror (it even played at London’s Frightfest in 2009), but it feels more like a well-shot TV dramatization. It lacks any real fear for the majority of the running time, with just a great performance by deranged, disillusioned stalker Evan. The characters throughout Coffin Rock are realistically played, but it is not the taut psychological horror it could have been, focusing on Jessie’s turmoil rather than Evan’s graduating madness, and this build up is too slow and obvious to be impressive. When the final act kicks in it becomes a compelling, disturbing stalker horror, but it takes far too long to get there.

Coffin Rock is a decent film. It’s not brilliant and it’s certainly not terrible, it’s just a little pedestrian until the finale arrives, where it becomes a taut, nasty little horror with a great central performance. Enjoyable, watchable, passable stuff.

Rating: ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆

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