Perkins' 14 is the result of a collaboration between After Dark Films and the online horror filmmaking community, Massify.com. It's not often that a horror movie comes along with a plot that makes me think "damnit, I wish I'd thought of that!", but such is the case with Perkins' 14; a low-budget shocker that makes up for its lack of polish with a truly original, unsettling, and all-around awesome concept.
It's been ten years to the day since Officer Dwayne Hopper's (Patrick O'Kane), son, Kyle, was abducted by a man responsible for thirteen other kidnappings in the small town of Stone Cove. In those years, Dwayne's life has steadily fallen apart, with everything from his marriage and friendships to his relationship with his daughter, Daisy (Shalya Beesley) in ruins.
Dwayne spends the evening of the anniversary of his son's disappearance working the graveyard shift at the police station, where a mysterious prisoner, Ronald Perkins (Richard Brake), matching the description of the kidnapper is being held on a minor traffic violation. Dwayne convinces fellow officer, Hal, to go search Perkins' house while he interrogates the man, hoping to goad a confession out of him before he has to set him free. When Hal doesn't report in, Dwayne goes to investigate, and find his friend dead in Perkins' basement. It's here that Dwayne also discovers the true fate of Kyle and Perkins' other victims, who, ten years later, now roam the street on a drug-fueled quest for vengeance against those who'd all but forgotten about them.
Perkins' 14 is a tense and nasty little horror thriller, with an "in your face" visual style and a truly compelling story that is only slightly marred by the film's somewhat pedestrian final act, a few questionable casting decisions (thirtysomething former Misfits frontman, Michale Graves, seems particularly out of place as teenage Daisy's rocker boyfriend, Eric), and the occasional bout of Avid-vomit editing that low-budget filmmakers almost invariably resort to in some sort of misguided attempt to mask their budgetary limitations (if I could get my hands on the guy who invented that "strobe" effect, I'd ring his neck).
The movie more than makes up for these minor missteps with wonderfully gruesome special effects, a riveting performance by O'Kane, and, of course, the aforementioned fan-generated plot that plays out like the bastard love child of Silence of the Lambs and 28 Days Later. Director, Craig Singer ("Dark Ride") films it all with a documentary style sense of urgency that really ratchets up the tension.
Released as a part of the surprisingly good batch of films that make up 2009's After Dark Horror Fest, Perkins' 14 comes to DVD courtesy of Lionsgate with a smattering of extras, including a making-of featurette (comprised of several webisodes), a Miss Horrorfest webisode, and trailers for several Lionsgate releases. I'd also like to give a quick shout out to the unsung heroes who designed the packaging for the films in this year's collection, as they've really gone all out with the nifty linticular covers and die-cut sleeves offered here, making this rather cool collection that much cooler.