Dana sucks at biology. She can’t stand the sight of organs or creepy things. The thought of cutting into something makes her sick. (This is a horror flick after all, which means she’s destined to see a lot of guts.) She’s in danger of failing the class when the teacher’s assistant offers her a chance at some extra credit in the form of a field trip.
I don’t know what she is good at, but choosing guys isn’t it. Her boyfriend is a big prick obsessed with partying. I was hoping an alligator would somehow make his way into the dorm and bite his leg off. Unfortunately, this is not an afternoon movie on the Sci-Fi Channel, which regularly involves killer reptiles, insects or tiny mammals with big, pointy fangs like the rabbit in Monty Python & the Holy Grail.
Dana leaves her douchebag and joins an expedition into the swamp to earn extra credit. The group features cute couple Gary and Shelly, Jamal with the strong pimp hand and a stripper named Eve. See that, readers, strippers really do go to college. The expedition is led by the teacher’s assistant, Curt (who I was calling “nervous Peyton Manning” by the ten minute mark).
So, three hot chicks, and two college guys follow nervous Peyton Manning into the depths of a gigantic swamp where alligators, snakes, woodpeckers and other dangers feed on one another. Naturally, sexual escapades are the first note of business. That is followed by some character interaction to provide depth to bummed-out Dana and her classmates. Nervous Peyton Manning continues to act nervous.
The group gets to meet creepy ranger Dale, who shows up to investigate a dead alligator and create the fear of poachers in the minds of the students. Incidentally, Dale (pronounced DAYULL) was the name of my tour guide when I visited the Jack Daniel’s distillery. He was nothing at all like this psychopath, except for the accent.
Like any film featuring a group of young [insert scared people] who enter into a mysterious [insert location] and are stalked by an unknown [insert murderer here], Dismal relies on tension and creativity to make it a success. The first two kills are evidence of writer Bo Buckley’s willingness to throw a good curve ball when it comes to whacking young co-eds.
Dismal moves from outdoor slasher to indoor torture with grisly precision. Director Gary King uses splashes of blood and the percussion of the meat cleaver to drive home the gore. At the hands of Dale and his son, “Idiot”, the survivors are put through the hell of witnessing one classmate butchered and another set free to run for survival…sort of.
Dismal reaches a gory, blood-laden climax pitting Dana against her captors in one final attempt to make it out alive. Who will live? Who will die? Who will be hors devours?
Slasher films never really went away, but it seems to be a more prominent theme in the past few years. Dismal finds its happy place among them, better than a simple re-tread of a tired scenario but not exactly original. For the majority of the film, viewers will find the characters and killing believable and, at times, downright nasty.
For a film that relies on flesh as a medium, the motion effects were far too computer-tastic. The still visuals and makeup provided a gritty, humid feel, which made up for the three or four scenes which appeared too animated. Kenneth Lampl’s original score flowed well with the story.
Among the most creative things I’ve ever read was the Christmas card from FearMakers studio in celebration of the upcoming Dismal release. It was the night before Christmas, but replace the stockings and chimney with cannibals and torture.
For further information on Dismal, visit the official site at www.fearmakersdismal.com.