Saturday, July 5, 2014

VARSITY BLOOD (2013)


VARSITY BLOOD (2013)

Label: Image Entertainment UK
Region Code: 2 PAL
Duration: 82 Minutes
Rating: 15 Certificate 

Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen (1.78:1)
Director: Jake Helgren
Cast: Lexi Giovagnoli, Wesley Scott, Debbie Rochon, Natalie Peyton, Blair Jackson, Elyse Bigler, Jesse Ferraro, Chris Hlozek, Payton Wood

VARSITY BLOOD comes to us from the writer of BLOODY HOMECOMING who both writes and directs this high school set slasher - it's Halloween night and a group of small town jocks and cheerleaders head out to a farmhouse in the woods for some under-age drinking and promiscuous good times. Unfortunately for them someone wearing the hometown team native American warrior costume shows up with his tomahawk and they're not there to cheer on the team - they want sink their tomahawk into the teens nubile flesh. 

Kudos to Helgren for writing a group of teen character who are fleshed out more than the typical stalk and slash movie. Our final girl Hannah (Lexi Giovagnoli, BLOODY HOMECOMING)  is very likable as are most of the cast of characters though we have the mandatory assortment of douche nozzles and bitchy cheer-divas too - because it's just so much fun to watch them die, but we're rooting for quite a few kids with this one. The writing is pretty strong with some true wit and even some depth though not all of the young cast are up to the challenge of the written word. There are plenty of groan-inducing dialogue - particularly when each of the cast face off with our masked killer one on one, sometimes it's just the delivery but often the dialogue is just awful or a bit too corny.

From what I've seen from Jake Helgren's previous writing credit and with this film he is a obviously a huge slasher buff and as such he provides us with a decent masked murder hacking-up the kids - there's some true heart in this one. The mascot suit is a bit ridiculous and not at all practical but it is visually interesting. Unfortunately the suit is so bulky the guy in the costume cannot really add any character to the movement. 

As a low-budget slasher the film looks pretty damn decent - shot on digital we have some great chase sequences and reveals but some a few of the sequences are overly dark and not very well lit.Overall it does have a consistent tone but the score did nothing for me and doesn't muster up much in the way of atmosphere for me. 

The kills are pretty gruesome in a lo-fi sorta way but I give props to the filmmakers for not going super-digital and they seem to stick with mostly practical gore with some decent blood work and decapitations. Other than some budgetary limitations and  my main beef with the production  is the reveal of the killer's identity and everything after - the tone shifts so suddenly from a fairly straight-up slasher to hammy and convoluted camp-fest it took me right out of the movie and it never recovered.

VARSITY BLOOD is a fun slasher throwback with some decent kills and an semi-interesting masked killer but I cannot say I'll revisit this one again despite it having some heart and soul. It just doesn't do much to separate itself from the dozens of indie slashers that pop up on Netflix and Red Box these days - a decent one and done. 

The movie arrives on DVD in the Uk on August 18th from Image Entertainment and on the 19th here in the U.S. also from Image. 

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