Horror 102 (2004)
WRITER: Ana Clavell
DIRECTOR: Ana Clavell
STARRING: Jeremy Aldridge as Raymond Gerry
Shasa Dabner as Bebe Hillerman
Melissa Frederick as Maddie Engel
Christopher Hawkins as P.J. Lansing
Lukas Langer as Taffy
Anna Lerbom as Heid Leifdotter
Michael Moon as Owen
Simon Zonatto as Paul Barron
QUICK CUT: A group of students gather in an abandoned building to go on a field trip, until they start dropping off one by one in strange circumstances.
Maddie - The quiet, shy girl. She brings a plant to an abandoned building when awaiting a field trip since that's probably her only friend. She's smart, and determined.
Bebe - Maddie's best friend, and thankfully not the *sassy* black friend. Hooray for avoiding tropes.
Paul - The local creeper, and thats saying something, with the rest of this cast. PJ likes to take videos. And I mean really likes it. He sets video cameras up to record anything that might be important. Pretty creepy.
Heid - An almost laughably stereotypical Norwegian witch. She's got the silly accent, she acts all creepy, even though she uses her powers for good. Heid has a reputation of being an ice queen amongst men.
PJ - Arguably, Maddie's love interest. They take an instant shine to each other. Which is a good thing, because he's otherwise pretty dull.
Raymond - Your typical guy from a well-off family, and a little bit religous and "I'm better than you!"
Owen - The slightly crazy custodian of the asylum everyone is hanging around in. He's probably a former inmate.
THE GUTS: Class is back in session for our second semester of horror remedial studies, so sit down, get your pencils out, and be quiet because Horror 102 is about to begin. Yes, somehow, someone decided to make a sequel of the movie we reviewed last time out. What the hell they were thinking, I do not know.
We manage to start off even more promising than Horror 101, at least. But I am not going to let my guard down and be fooled by another movie within a movie just yet. They open up on some nicely bloody walls, and an already dead girl getting strapped to a chair and wheeled down dark, grimey hallways of an institution.
And while it didn't turn out to be part of a movie, what that scene has to do with anything else in the movie remains a mystery as it is swallowed up by the credits. A mystery that is never really solved beyond, "Hey! Bad stuff happened here once!"
The proper movie begins with a young woman wheeling a suitcase up to an old door in a building that doesn't look like it has been paid attention to in many a year. She's there for some sort of field trip, and it looks like she's one of the first there. She gets surprised by a pre-med student somehow pulling a Batman and appearing out of nowhere. Where he could be hiding, damned if I know. I only let Batman get away with that because he's the freakin' Batman.
Anyways, we learn her name is Madeline Engle, and boy, that will bring a whole new wrinkle in ti...things for this movie, if I dare say. Maddie gets harassed by the tool for a bit, then goes off to try and find her room, just as he tells her the place is haunted. Well, at least we'll have some excitement. Maybe. Probably not.
That's when two more of the loser squad arrives; Maddie's friend Bebe, and her rocker boyfriend...Taffy? That name might be so anti-tough that it counteracts the power that one normally associates with being in a band.
An already strange movie amps up the weird some more by introducing yet another character. You know the type, the squirrely, nervous, twitchy guy. Who hears voices. He's blabbing about how they can't go outside, how it's too late now that they've signed in...yeah. THAT guy. And he almost runs over the caretaker who just has to inform us he only does windows on Tuesday. There's also a smell that comes along with Owen the caretaker.
And hey! HE'S JAKE FROM THE LAST MOVIE!! Get him, make him explain the plot!!
I think the inmates truly are running this former asylum.
The girls try and find their rooms, and before they split up, starting THAT trope early I see, Bebe snaps a few pics of Maddie and her plant. And some guy creeping up behind her. Who just so happens to dress like Owen. But he's not there when they look behind them, or in the photos. Another point never mentioned again.
We meet more of the cannon fodder for our movie, as we run into Raymond calling his girlfriend to try and explain how everyone going on this mysterious field trip has to spend the night in an abandoned asylum makes a lick of sense.
25 minutes in, and we're still introducing new characters. There's also Heid, an exchange student with a reputation for being cold. She may also be a witch. That might come in handy later.
Owen drags Maddie downstairs to have her open the door that someone is banging upon. Why didn't he just do it himself? He says he's not supposed to let anyone in after a certain time, but going to get someone else to open the door is a weird loophole. Not to mention, why get Maddie? There's plenty of other people waiting to die, some even on a nearer floor.
Sigh. Anyways, Maddie lets in PJ...and they start to go to their rooms, but come back together to talk about why everyone is in the rooms they're in. PJ tries to use some terribly awful flirting on the girl, but she just rolls her eyes.
Then we learn the real reason the rooms are laid out the way they are; to allow Paul and Raymond to be skeevy and use the convenient vents to record the girls in the rooms above them. Paul's a bit of a voyeur, actually, and has been recording much of the days events, clandestinely. Thankfully, this didn't end up being a found footage movie.
Ominously, in Heid's room, she's making little clay effigies of all the cast members, stacking up runes, and playing with her athame. I can sense the movie is going to have her be a good pagan, but I hate how they are playing this entirely for the creepiness. That's just insulting and playing into fears, as if she was just outright evil.
During all this blather, the weird squirrely guy has been running around, seeing visions, and getting scared. No one seems to have noticed his occasional screaming. We finally catch up with him, tied to a chair and being wheeled around by Probably Not Owen.
Poor crazy dude gets his head bashed against a wall several times, and I am calling that our first death, at a whopping 33 minutes in. I'm all for a slow burn, but this movie so far has been more like a slow bore with the endless parade of characters.
Bebe and Taffy investigate the noises, which are taking place literally right outside their cell. Bebe gets spooked when Not Owen flings the dead George at her, and Taffy gives chase wielding his axe. I don't know if he realises that's just a nickname for a guitar.
The commotion raises the attention of the other inmates, and Owen declares someone is not supposed to be there, and that's against the rules. Paul tries to find out who it is, but Owen's not the brightest fry in the Happy Meal. Another thing not really dealt with.
Bebe insists a ghost is what attacked them, because it did things that made it seem like a ghost. It uh, did no such things. It pushed a guy in a chair. With wheels. I can do that, you can do that. By Kaufman, we're all ghosts!!
Heid points out that Bebe stinks of weed, and she denies doing anything. Taffy on the other hand... Of course, once the accusation of drugs gets thrown around, their credibility goes out the window. As everyone conveniently ignores the fact that there is a GIANT BLOODSTAIN on the walls behind them. Drugs do not bleed.
They try to decide what to do, how to find George, but they get interrupted when the locked door to Bebe's room mysteriously creaks open. Oooh, spoooky. But that's enough to make everyone want to run for the doors and get out of the asylum. Except for Paul, because he's done a lot of work to get into this supposedly important field trip, and if anyone leaves, it's cancelled. Because that's not a contrived reason to keep everyone in the plot
Everyone rushes to the door anyways, with Paul saying they're not thinking straight. Yes, because a good grade is worse than a bloody death. But it becomes a moot point as the locks engage on all the doors, securing them all until six AM, with no way out. Pfff, something must be breakable enough to get out.
Can I say "And then things start getting weird" this deep into extant weirdness? Well, they do. They go looking for the missing friends, and Raymond has begun to act like he's hearing voices, and spouting off strange things. And he's not the only one acting strange. But, it may just be bad acting, so whatever.
They find George's room, with another bloody great stain on the wall. I don't know how much more blood this guy has left in him. They also find a coat like Owen's, and a walkie talkie. On the other end of it they can hear Owen calling out to someone, telling them what's going on, and suspect he's spying on them for some reason.
We finally catch back up with Taffy, waking up in a room somewhere, and finding files that make him blurt out, "Fuck me!" at whatever it is they contain. But before he can reveal the wild coincidence of waking up next to, and grabbing the exact right files with a plot point, the killer bashes poor Taffy's face in with his own guitar.
The killer must still want the revelation to get out though, since he tosses the file folder out into the hallway just as Bebe comes by. She doesn't get to see her boyfriend's pulled, salted face one last time since the door to the room is closed, but she does grab the files and runs for it when she sees the killer's shadow.
Just as Bebe is reading the files though, the killer pops back up and takes her out too. Geeze. Why bother giving them the files, if he's just going to kill them when they read them?
Raymond heads back to his room and pulls out a copy of the anti-witch book, Malleus Maleficarum. Who casually brings that as light reading on a field trip? I guess he likes to be prepared? Well, he also has his margaurita mix, so I guess he does.
While Maddie avoids slipping through a tesseract, someone goes into Paul's room and finds a big, shiny gun in his desk. I'm pretty sure that somewhere in that oh so important rulebook they keep mentioning, there's a clause covering no firearms.
Thanks to Paul's obsessive video recording, we also learn that everyone there had some secret in their past, and that's the reason they're on this field trip; some sort of redemption ploy. Paul stole some exam answers, Raymond was caught plagarising. Is this how the school was going to cover up their worst students? Kill them off?
Maddie gets surprised while reading a book about the history of the asylum, when she turns around and sees George resting in his chair next to her. And then Owen shows up out of nowhere. Seriously, this girl needs to pay better attention. A marching band could sneak up on her.
Owen says he found another body, and hands Maddie a tag with Taffy's name on it, and then, I shit you not, Raymond jumps into frame to spout out how Owen is not one of them, and not to listen to him. Okay, movie. You cannot just have people standing next to the camera operator and them jump in front of the lens to make an entrance. It is off putting and breaks the fourth wall. And good taste.
Paul's chilling in reception and reading some stuff on his own, when Heid makes a proper entrance through a doorway, to ask where her dagger is. Her dagger, which she has laced with poison. And has lost the antidote for. Oh, good going. More fun stupid witchcraft BS.
Raymond decides to take a potty break while running with Maddie, and ducks into the girl's bathroom. There, he finds Bebe, and everything bathed in red light. And then they start making out. Somehow, again, more weirder this movie gets.
The rest of the future victims find Maddie waiting, and PJ rushes into the bathroom to get Raymond. Inside, he finds the reality of Ray making out with a dead, bloodied Bebe. Which somehow is a step back towards normal, for this movie.
In his fit of crazy, Raymond attacks the witch, until he gets knocked out. Everyone starts to question Owen, but he's still pretty clueless. And Heid notices the bread that Raymond is eating is infested with ergot, a psychosis-inducing fungus. Well, at least they're giving us SOME sort of explanation. I was having doubts.
So now that most everyone is infected and going crazy, they drag Raymond to his room, but find Taffy beat them to the place and annoyingly died on the bed. Maddie finds another tag, this time with Paul's name on it, leading them to believe he's next.
Paul takes the news well, and threatens Owen with his gun to get some answers. He gives up after hearing this can't be stopped, and runs off to prove them wrong. Heid is still babbling about how the spirits are upset, but since we've just had the ergot explanation, which she helped prove, doesn't that lead us away from angry ghosts? Sigh.
Unsurprisingly, Paul is the next to find the cursed files, and starts to piece things together. Besides babbling out room names, he doesn't really clue us in much before he decides to head to George's room. Once he's there, the killer walks in and they have a little chat. He tries to make a deal, but gets stabbed with a certain dagger last seen in Raymond's possession.
Finally, once they find Paul's corpse, Owen speaks up. Now was that so hard? You couldn't do that an hour ago? He tells them that this was called Endgame back in the day. A part of Dr. Loizade's therapy. A role playing session that would heal insanity through terror. Is this what the school was doing? Giving their troubled students payback through fear? Geeze. That's crazy in and of itself.
And wasn't this the plot of Ripper 2?
Of course, with crazy Owen telling stories, Raymond not being sane, not seeing who did stab Paul, and he being crazed at the time too, it's hard to tell just who it is doing the killings, despite the clues pointing at Raymond. The movie has sown seeds of just enough doubt.
Elsewhere, Raymond has captured the witch, and tied her down. He makes it pretty clear he plans to fulfill his religious dogma and burn her to death. Hilariously, his lighter doesn't work, and he apologises as he goes to find a match. And this is made all the more insane by his blood stained face. Fortunately, crazy Ray ties really terrible knots, and Heid escapes while he's gone.
And speaking of seeds of doubt, Raymond gets his neck slashed before he can do any burning of the heretics. So, probably not the killer.
Heid is running around the halls, piecing things together, and still not telling the audience much, while PJ and Maddie head to her room to try and get out through a window. Because 15 minutes before the doors unlock is the best time to do that. Not six hours ago.
The witch rushes off to Maddie's room as well, and finds the lead, innocent seeming girl carving up PJ's face. Huh. That is a hell of a wrinkle in the plot. You know, since I was making the Ripper comparrisons, I really should've seen this coming a lot sooner, huh?
Owen makes it to the doors just as six AM hits and they unlock. He makes his escape, as the two girls watch him hobble off down the sidewalk. They stay inside, and Heid goes on an extended rant about their killings, and how the two of them were in on it and shared in the slayings.
Damn, okay. The movie gets points there. That was unexpected, and a nice twist. Two killers is a good way to keep people guessing, and lets you set others up as NOT being the killer since you can see them when someone is being done in.
This seems to have been a game by these two, although it's not clear why. And it also seems like this has been going on for awhile, but the movie seems terribly confused on the big picture.
They talk about what to do now, since Owen got away, and they can't go after someone once they're free of the building. Heid wants to set up another match, since this one ended in a tie, with two people left. Maddie just smiles and says there's always a winner, and executionals her accomplice.
But wait, the twists keep coming!! Maddie finishes her kill, and turns to see Owen standing there. She asks him how she did, and calls him professor. As in, Professor Jacobson, the man behind the apparently non-existent field trip.
He's pleased with her results, and says he'll recommend her for a full scholarship for her studies now that she's murdered an entire group of people. Which, okay. Leaves me with just one question.
WHAT KIND OF SCHOOL IS THIS?!
Video: Not bad, but not great. Pretty dark at times, and more or less what you'd expect to see from home cameras.
Audio: Does the job well enough, at least.
Sound Bite: "You must be an asshole major!"
1 - George, tied to a chair, and head bashed against a wall until it's bloody. 33 minutes.
2 - Taffy gets done in by his own guitar.
3 - Bebe, grabbed and mutilated.
4 - Paul, stabbed in the hallways.
5 - Raymond, with a slit throat.
6 - PJ, sliced up by Maddie.
7 - Heid, stabbed by Maddie
Best Corpse - I liked the graphicness and surprise of who was slicing up PJ, so I guess he wins.
Blood Type - C+: Most of the blood is already on the walls, but what we see looks good, and the makeup effects are passable.
Sex Appeal - All provided by Heid, the Norse witchgoddess.
Movie Review: Well...it could be worse. The acting isn't great, but there's emotion somewhere in there. The writing is clunky, full of holes, and oftentimes makes no sense. But there's a strong idea there, if you can find it down the twists and turns. If it didn't become completely incohernet at times, it would be almost unique. If not for Ripper 2. But it's made well enough for a low-budget horror movie, and does what it does. Still, there's a lot of pain here, and not a lot of sense. Three out of five loaves of tainted bread.
Entertainment Review: I'll admit it, I kinda like this mess. It's better than the first one, at least. It is certainly entertaining, and watching the final stages of the mystery unfold was...actually rather interesting. It definitely kept me guessing, and I liked how things turned out. When I could figure out what the fuck they were. Still, that HUH?! factor is interesting in its own way, although it gets a bit much at times too. Three out of five classified files.