Sunday, January 08, 2006

The Roost - 2005

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This film rocks. I can’t put it any other way. The Roost is in many ways a true horror throwback to the seventies and eighties, when low budget films still looked and acted like films, but in many ways it also employs real tricks of the trade that are fun and imaginative. Some truly eerie cinematography and some fine direction take this idiotically written little flick and turn it into a fun and cool trip down memory lane. Other films, of late, have tried to emulate this style and accomplish this décor (like 2004’s overrated Malevolence by Steven Mena), but few succeed where The Roost does.

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A rather long and almost tiresome opening lets the audience in on a small little secret; the film is going to suck. It will suck in that really nice Worms/Pumkinhead/Motel Hell way that we all know and love. And it does. The cute ode to TV horror hosts and black and white comedy horror like Elvira and The Munsters doesn’t really fit in with the rest of the story, but, then again, the rest of the story doesn’t really fit in with the rest of the story. Several ill-fated youngsters on a dark road fall prey to a muddy road on the way to a friend’s wedding. When they can’t get their tire unstuck, they decide to take a walk down the dark and deserted country highway in order to search for help. What happens next s a bunch of creepy and nonsensical events that are so much fun to watch you forget, nay, you don’t care, that The Roost has almost no real plot.

The direction really stands out in The Roost. Bordering on improv, the dialogue feels unrehearsed and the long moments in-between statements comes off as artistic and professional, rather than amateurish and embarrassing. The Roost’s director Ti West really has a definitive style involving dark shadows, long silences, and (thank god!) no excessive or unnecessary dialogue. The Roost also isn’t afraid to show off its b-level special effects in broad lighting, and in color. Unlike so many b-movies and indie horror films, The Roost isn’t embarrassed by its budget. By bold-facedly highlighting the blood and gore, the film seems proud of itself, and therefore, we (the audience) feel proud of it too. West also has an advantage when it comes to his film; his location is really great. The old barn that 75% of the film is shot in is creepy, interesting, and allowed for so many artistic possibilities. West didn’t waste any of them. West has proven that barns can be creepy, too. So can darkness, subtlety, and suspense. The Roost employs all of them.

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The acting is above average, probably due to the excellent direction, and the pace and timing are nothing short of perfection for a horror film. However, I won’t lie. The plot makes no sense at all, and there is no effort made to explain it. The Roost involves killer bats and bloodthirsty zombies, and somehow the two are connected. I saw the movie, but I still have no idea how, or even why, these two elements are even together in one film.

Despite its insistence that it is a b-film and deserves to be on a late night horror host show on public access, The Roost is actually better than that. Sure, the grainy, pixilated contours of the images, the lack of budget, and the downright moronic storyline might be qualifiers for such a fate, but the talent of the director, fx team, and cinematographer boost The Roost to a much higher level of horror enjoyment.

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Written and directed by: Ti West
Produced by: Susan Leber
Featuring: To Noonan, Karl Jacob, Vanessa Horneff, Sean Reid, Wil Horneff, Barbara Wilhide, Richard Little, John Speredakos
80 minutes

Review by Heidi Martinuzzi.


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