Directed by: Adrian Garcia Bogliano
A few months ago I had heard about this film hitting the festival circuits. When the trailer finally hit, it literally gave me chills of excitement. It felt like an old school style horror film. A homage, if you will, to films like Rosemary's Baby, The Omen and The Changeling. Boy, that trailer got me really excited. Then literally just a few weeks after seeing this amazing trailer I came across a film on Netflix called Cold Sweat. It sounded intriguing, so we threw it on and boom! Directed by Adrian Garcia Bogliano, the same writer/director of Here Comes the Devil. Now I enjoyed Cold Sweat immensely, so my excitement over HCtD only intensified and when I realized it was available to rent just the other day, I jumped at the chance for some old school creepy horror.
Overall, I'd have to say that HCtD didn't fulfill my expectations as much as I'd hoped. At times it felt like a completely missed opportunity, and at others it felt semi-amateurish. Bogliano has a distinct way of directing, and while it worked well for Cold Sweat, it didn't seem to for HCtD. But the shocking thing is that if you've seen the trailer, it promises a distinct style and narrative based on the visual elements alone, yet ultimately does not deliver. While he does try, he can't seem to help but revert to his often playful kinetic camerawork, which is a shame really. HCtD had so much potential, yet fails to deliver on several levels.
The thing is that this could have been a creepy as hell and deeply unsettling film, yet only seems to slightly scratch the surface on that concept. If you've seen the trailer, you know the story. Two kids go playing around on a mountain, go over the hill and disappear, only to reemerge later and acting strangly. Oh man, there are so many things you can do with that concept alone and hell, the damn title pretty much fills everything else in. But as much as I hate to say it, HCtD doesn't always deliver the goods. There's a lot to like about it if you give it a chance; some really inspired sequences and a cool "WTF?!" revenge moment, but there's also a lot of things that just don't work and some ideas that drag out way too long and take you out of the experience. I think one of it's biggest weaknesses is that it runs along at a snails pace. While that's nothing new for a film like this, there are times where it's just too much, especially when writer/director Adrian Garcia Bogliano spends a little too much time trying to establish the strained relationship between the mother and father of the now creepy-ass kids. But then something unsettling and disturbing happens and you remember, again, that you are in fact watching something pretty cool.
As things progress, it takes a number of predictable turns, but most of all takes more unpredictable ones. Annoyingly though, with some of these creep-out rad scenes that are thrown in randomly from to time, a good chunk of them are never explained so you don't really understand what they mean or what significance they have in relation to the creepy kids. Are they doing these things? Or are they just a pawn? It can get a little frustrating from time to time not knowing, but the constant sense of overall dread hovering over everything in this film kind of helps you forget, because it's rare that a film like this ever comes around so for the most part, you can forgive it's flaws. I'm sure it sounds like I'm bitching about the whole thing but in all honesty, I really enjoyed it. It just feels like it could have been better or that they didn't fully realize it's potential, and as an avid filmgeek, you obviously start thinking of all the ways it should have gone but didn't. Regardless of my personal feelings about it's shortcomings, Adrian Garcia Bogliano's HCtD is still a knockout of a haunting creepy-kids thriller.
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