Most Horrible Things - New Release Review
Director: Hiroshi Katagiri
Starring: Sean Sprawling, Simon Philips, Sean Patrick Flanery, Natalie Burn, Grant Pfost
Written by: Aviva Dove-Biebahn, Brittany L. Fonte, Sean Sprawling, Simon Philips
Produced by: Jonathan Nellis, Sean Sprawling
Cinematography by: Josh Ausley
Original Score by: Darren Morze
When six young strangers are invited to a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity – an exclusive dinner party hosted by a charming and enigmatic host on Valentine’s Day – they have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Or so they think...
The premise to this one isn't entirely original. We've sorta seen this type of thing before. Think 'House on Haunted Hill' meets 'Saw' but without any ghoulie ghosts or torture devices. Or without the budget or compelling writing or edge of your seat performances. Sadly 'Most Horrible Things' lives up to it's title...
I believe that the story was conceived by Sean Sprawling and Simon Philips, who both appear in the film as the enigmatic unnamed Host and the rather proper speaking Butler. It feels like they watched quite a few of those 'strangers are brought together in an intimate environment and there's a twist at the end' type films and thought they could have a swing at it themselves. Unfortunately it doesn't really work on any level and actually feels more like an extended episode of a ficitonal crime television show.
The structure of the film is interesting in that it is essentially one large flashback in time towards the beginning of the dinner party and the events that unfold. But we often cut back to the present where the people involved are being questioned by two detectives, played by Sean Patrick Flanery and Natalie Burn. There doesn't seem to be much effort being made here to provide any sort of tension or intrigue to these characters or to add anything to the thickened plot in the aftermath of the murders at the party (Oh yeah, nearly everyone invited to the party dies) These scenes feel like filler and as a way just to make us hate the Host and the Butler, both of whom are positioned as the perpetrators behind the deaths.
The dinner party is designed to allow the invitees to potentially find a partner but almost immediately there is confrontation and there just isn't any time devoted to the characters or set-up, which means there's no meaningful stakes when the shit starts hitting the fan. There's nothing memorable or even likeable about the characters and actually they're all clones of each other. The dialogue is very on-the-nose too and hard to believe. The script lacks any sort of depth or anything clever at all. It all feels very one dimensional.
Outside of the gore effects, which are very good and are only used sparingly, I'm struggling to find anything really positive to say about the film. Most of the scenes are lit quite well and there is some nice shots, especially at the beginning. I think some of the cast do try their hardest with the roles they are given, particulary Natalie Burn as Detective Denver, but I'm sad to say that the acting overall is sub-par, with a few of the cast clearly going through the motions. Bland and robotic with almost zero charisma. Director Hiroshi Katagiri has worked in special make-up effects for decades on multi million dollar Hollywood movies. A student of the great Stan Winston, it isn't surprising that the gory scenes are the best bits of the entire film. Katagiri is still going strong in the effects field and I hate to say but I think he is best suited there and not behind the camera. Other than the kills there's really nothing of note to talk about. I honestly can't even remember some of the characters names. And the "twist" just seems like it was thrown in there for the sake of having a "twist" ending. The reveal just happens. There's no build up at all.
I never enjoy writing negative comments about a film and maybe if the script was tighter with more time spent building some tension and character development 'Most Horrible Things' might have had a chance but it just felt like a production that was rushed through from start to finish in the quickest time frame possible.
- Gavin Logan
'Most Horrible Things' is released on Digital Platforms in the UK on November 14th