CULT FACTION

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The Lurker (2019)

The Lurker is a slasher thriller film starring scream queen Scout Taylor Compton as high school senior Taylor, who seems to be at the epicentre of a series of killings at her high school. This film is interesting, to say the least. The performances were for the most part pretty good. Nothing groundbreaking, but serviceable for a high school slasher story. My personal favourite was the creepy drama teacher who glided about the film in a beret talking rather theatrically. The film is also shot quite well with some really beautiful exterior shots of the woods.

My biggest praise however has to go to the music. Being that this film is inspired by the slasher flicks of the 80s, the soundtrack feels decidedly from that era. Lots of synths and pulsing beats make the film feel warmer than a regular soundtrack would and it really enhances the film. You’ll notice I’ve not spoken much about the story so far, and that’s because I don’t really know where to start. The basic premise of the film is that there are a series of murders in a high school, with a voicemail from the first victim indicating that Taylor is going to be targeted. The series of murders however isn’t exactly slow and tension building. We get two in the first act, the second act is mainly dialogue and expository and then the final act has a house party result in everybody else’s deaths.

The film has somewhat of an identity crisis in that it wants to be this taut, mysterious character driven thriller but it also wants to be a dumb, schlocky 80s throwback and what we get instead is a frankenstein genre mishmash. The twist is also quite easy to figure out, not least because they spend the whole second act idling and spouting enough exposition that by the time the big reveal comes the impact has already been taken away. The twist being of course that it was Taylor and her teacher/lover that committed all the murders.

The film also gets bogged down by an unnecessary pregnancy subplot. The film would be no different if you remove the fact that Taylor was pregnant, because it ultimately has no bearing on the story. Her teacher getting her pregnant and her friends finding out has no difference to her friends just finding out she was sleeping with her teacher. I should mention also that for some reason her teacher is her mom’s boyfriend also. Many of the characters in this film are written quite inconsistently, for example Taylor is written as this mastermind behind the murders who kills her teacher/lover and ends up going free but she also leaves fingerprints all over the murder weapon and the corpses leading me to believe she really isn’t very smart and that she will just end up in prison.

This film is both incredibly genre savvy and genre ignorant at the same time. The school is called Crystal Lake High, ostensibly a reference to Friday The 13th, indicating the writer John Lerchenis aware of the pitfalls and tropes of the genre yet at the same time the characters make the same dumb ass decisions and are written as obtusely as those of classic teen slashers.

VERDICT: Overall, I would have to give this film a 5.5/10. Technically speaking this film is well made and the seeds of a good story are there, but ultimately this film fell a little flat for me. Great soundtrack though.

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