A hybrid of found footage and conventional, Stoker Hills starts off fast, but quickly loses its way with its grand ambition…..
Even though the Found Footage genre has now been literally done to death, there is always a hope when you sitting down to watch a new release that it will offer you a surprise and that feeling when you first saw the trio of Heather, Mike and Josh take that trek into those damn woods.
While many have tried to offer something different, nearly all carry the same basic blueprint of dumb kids getting into trouble when they should really be putting down that camera and getting themselves out of there. To the credit of director Benjamin Louis and writer Jonah Kuehner, they do try and mix things up within the formula by offering up a story that is part Found Footage and part “What happens after”, its not the first time a film has offered this approach, but it does at least keep Stoker Hills interesting for a small portion of its running time.
The plot starts with a high school class and the standard cameo from Tony Todd whose Professor Smith is giving his speech to his students who are set to embark on their own amateur film. After a Scream 2 like conversation about films and TV, we settle on aspiring filmmakers Ryan (David Gridley) Jake (Vince Hill-Bedford) and Erica (Steffani Brass) who oddly decide to make a film called STREETWALKERS, which will be a mixture of The Walking Dead meets Pretty Woman, a premise that lets be honest, no fan ever asked for.
We then get to the film’s only true proper horror scare as while filming a scene, Erica is pulled into a passing car and abducted which leads to Ryan and Jake to give chase. A great moment is then sadly followed by some scenes of stupidity by the two boys who really do decide to the most idiotic things to keep the plot moving forward.
The trio’s exploits are followed by the police who stumble across this footage and the film cuts between the students fighting off a hooded killer to the conventional scenes of Detective Adams (Eric Etebari) and Detective Stafford (William Lee Scott), trying to find the teenagers and work out who the killer is and why they are on a murderous rampage.
On paper it sounds an intriguing premise, but Stoker Hills fails in the both departments it tries cleverly to be. The found footage angle offers nothing new with a jarring shaky cam approach that annoys quickly, while the investigation work is rather sluggish, making the 90 minute running time seem much longer than it actually is.
While there is enough gore to delight the easily pleased, the lack of scares and thrills as the police virtually stumble around in the dark in which the film begins to mirror a cheap JIGSAW wannabe, soon becomes nothing more than a paint by numbers thriller but just when you think you’ve seen it all, Stoker Hills offers up a final twist that is laughable and down right nonsense, its worth the watch just for that moment.
Its a shame you have to get through 89 minutes of tedious horror to get there…..
1.5 Hatchet out of 5