Details: (M), 86 mins, In Cinemas 13 September 2012, Australia, English
Synopsis: A group of seven high school friends enjoy the end of summer with a night of partying at a luxury beachside house in the slow town of Oak Bay. Brie wakes from a drugged sleep to find herself completely alone. Her mobile rings and she is told that her six friends have been buried alive. It's up to her to rescue them. The clock is ticking and Brie must solve the clues in a terrifying game of which the lives of her friends is in her hands.
A hodge-podge of a horror movie.
After recovering from a risible first act to register some minor final-reel chills, 6 Plots sets its sights on creating a new horror franchise and iconic villain. It’s unlikely either will come to fruition as Leigh Sheehan’s kicker is so blandly generic, despite being cluttered with thoroughly modern telco home-gadgetry. When it hits DVD, it might just find its key demographic: slumber-partying pre-teen girls and Dick Smith employees.
Sheehan won hearts with his warm, character-driven 2002 comedy Dalkeith, but he shows no such affinity with his players here. The opening schoolyard scene introduces the clichéd collection of inevitable victims as they bully, bitch and back-slap each other, gabbing in that giggly, single-sentence style that reeks of a middle-age scripter guessing at how teens talk. The princess, the nerd, the stoner, the slut, the athlete, the geek, the asthmatic – a hodge-podge of types so disparate they would never viably hook-up in most clique-centric high schools – head off to a night of summertime debauchery in a seaside mansion.
When nerdy/cool Brie (Alice Darling) awakens alone, she receives a phone call that manifests on her mobile screen as a bloody, teeth-baring happy-face: The Emoticon (perhaps cinema’s first pocket-size bad-guy). Way too inspired by ‘Jigsaw’ from the Saw movies, The Emoticon’s electronic voice tells Brie that her six friends have all been buried and, without the help of parents or police, she must find them before he offs them all in ridiculously complicated ways.
As the clock ticks down and Brie centres in on her surviving friends, some suspense is generated. To Sheehan’s credit, he forgoes the torture-porn grossness of the Saw films and stages the required killings with an icky effectiveness but without overstating the splatter. The young cast members apply themselves well given the limitations of the script, and in spite of the fact they are entombed for most of the film.
The high-concept horror device – like most far-fetched movie ideas that aren’t executed with precision – leaves gaping holes in 6 Plots’ real-time logic. It’s pointless to dwell on the inconsistencies that anyone who has seen more than two slasher films will spot, but here’s one of the biggies: Given the friends are seen partying well into the night, how could the killer possibly carry, box, wire-up and bury six dead-weight teens before sunrise? Despite a back-to-school coda that (I think) was meant to explain that away, it fails to convince.
Throughout the film, the friends have phones and both Brie and the unseen psycho behind The Emoticon have computer set-ups that look like NASA Control. Long passages are entirely devoid of face-to-face interaction, with the cast talking and/or screaming into phones, desk-tops, laptops or CB radios. The over-reliance on technology in modern movies no doubt reflects reality but it dulls the drama and ought to be reined in. A parting thought re The Emoticon: Considering the incredible advancements in technology over the last few decades, why do we need to go back to ’Joshua’ in Wargames (1983) to find a cyber-space e-baddie with any real menace?
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