The Impaler: Film Review

Attempting to profit from horror fans’ Halloween susceptibility is a poor excuse for sloppy filmmaking.

Director Derek Hockenbrough intends to drag Dracula’s historic origins into the light of present day.

With a premise that’s absurdly farfetched even for the horror genre, The Impaler purports to present a more authentic version of the Dracula origin myth, but comes up so short it effectively demonstrates that there are actually a few rungs below Z-grade fare.

Judgment will be swift and merciless, consigning this ridiculously lame attempt to streaming cues and late-night cable – that is, if it manages to attract any attention at all. Seven mismatched Hollywood high-school seniors plan a group trip to Europe following graduation, but get sidetracked when loudmouth jock Adam (Christian Gehring) announces he’s diverting their vacation to Transylvania for a weeklong private visit to the original castle of notorious 15th Century Prince Vlad.

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Known as “The Impaler” for his ruthless method of dispatching and publicly displaying invading Turks, his cruelty made him an ideal model of the notorious count of Bram Stoker’s infamous novel. The group includes Adam’s gold-digger girlfriend Ashley (Christina Collard) and single, anxious overeater Greg (Mark Jacobson), as well as Dominic (Teo Celigo), apparently a Romanian expat, and his girlfriend Chelsea (Marcienne Dwyer), who are bound together by a chastity pact until they can get married. At first the kids imagine that visiting a spooky old castle might be a bit of fun, but on arrival they find the resident groundskeeper, a timelessly beautiful woman named Veronica (screenwriter Diana Busuioc), to be rather disturbing.

The eventual spate of violence, which takes way too long to erupt, successively targets the teens according to whichever of the Seven Deadly Sins their behavior most closely resembles. Although frightened witless when Veronica comes after him, Dominic discovers his true destiny under her malevolent influence, which bodes ill for his rapidly dwindling companions, particularly so for dim-bulb Chelsea. There’s scant vampire lore throughout the film, which is more focused on satanic ritual than classic bloodsucking. Nearly an hour and a half is way too long to spend with these witless characters, who wouldn’t hold the attention of a warm-blooded human for more than a few seconds in any real-life situation.

Old, but not wise, beyond their years, the castmembers look like they should be on the cusp of completing PhD’s rather than high school. The plot becomes so convoluted with reconstructed historical and spiritual mythology it gets difficult to tell whether the principal fault lies with Busuioc’s nonsensical script or director Derek Hockenbrough’s apparent inability to adequately light a scene or maintain a sense of continuity. Stock-image inserts, fake wolf howls and shoddy set construction would be much better suited to an Abbott and Costello-style spooky comedy parody, but these filmmakers take themselves way too seriously to attempt any intentional humor.

No matter, since it appears The Impaler was solely intended to hold down the standalone date of Halloween before being consigned to the underworld of forgotten horror films.

Opens: Oct. 31 (Acort International)

Production companies: Flawless Production, Afflatus Productions, Full Moon Films

Cast: Diana Busuioc, Gregory Lee Kenyon, Teo Celigo, Mindy Robinson, Christian Gehring, Christina Collard, Rocco Nugent, Katelynn Derengowski, Marcienne Dwyer, Mark Jacobson

Director: Derek Hockenbrough

Screenwriter: Diana Busuioc

Producers: Derek Hockenbrough, Steve Snyder

Executive Producer: Daniel Anghelcev

Director of photography: Steve Snyder

Music: Ramin Kousha

Editor: Ethan Holzman No rating, 86 minutes

Twitter: @CinemaPlanet

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