Thanks to Signature Entertainment and Fright Fest Presents, we in the UK were gifted with Open 24 Hours on Monday 20th July, almost a whole month before the Stateside release date of August 18th. It’s quite rare that happens, in fact, even movies made here in the UK tend to be picked up by American Distribution first - so this was a nice little treat for us.
Written and Directed by Padraig Reynolds (Rites Of Spring, Worry Dolls, Dark Light), the movie starts with a rather unnecessary cold open, but we’re treated to a very cool opening credit song, Raindrops, by Dee Clark, a song which will eventually haunt the film and it’s protagonist. The nearly one-location Slasher starts with Mary (Vanessa Grasse - Leatherface, Astral) applying for a job at a run down, Horror movie ready, 24 hour gas station in the middle of nowhere. Horror Atmosphere - NAILED!
Our protagonist is fresh out of prison, for setting her boyfriend on fire, which doesn’t seem to phase the manager one little bit, but it does intrigue us viewers. We later find out it was to flee her boyfriend, who happened to be a hammer-wielding serial killer, having killed 35 women (each time in the soul cleansing rain) and boasting the name ‘The Rain Ripper’. Mary was also forced to become an accomplice, with threats of death if she didn’t become his willing ‘Watcher’. Already this gives Mary many layers; the backstory is great, creating a sense that this film is a sequel (of sorts), and us viewers will go on a journey with a surviving Final Girl as she tries to overcome the atrocities of her past (like we did with Nancy in NOES 3, or Sydney in Scream 2). BUT, the fact that she is dubbed ‘The Watcher’, gives the audience food for thought about our main character - is there more than meets the eye here?
Of course the rain kicks in, adding to the scary aesthetic of the location, which becomes a character of its own throughout the films runtime, and inside, rampant with PTSD, Mary’s first shift at the Deer Gas Market is plagued with flashbacks and hallucinations, and the stereotypical horror cliché, is this real or not? Various customers to the store become twisted up into Mary’s delusions, which seem to be pushing her over the edge…
‘How late are you open until? ’ - Are the phone calls real? Is the Ripper coming back for her? Or is our poor Mary having a mental breakdown?
With all the pieces in place, the film moves at quite a good pace, and this being a Slasher, people are violently killed, and in quite graphic and gory detail (whilst using practical FX), which will please many a gore hound, such as myself.
The way Reynolds approaches this movie reminds me of films such as Switchblade Romance and Incident At Ghostland, infusing the Slasher theme with high end emotion and turmoil, and similar to them, what I really like about this film, is its serious approach to the sub genre. Yes, it has many cliché’s, but it sheds the genre’s cheesy set ups, annoying kill-bait characters, colourful teenage outlook, and bright red, corn syrup blood - and replaces them with dreary cinematography, visceral violence, and an emotionally raw storyline, that doesn’t have you routing for the killer - for once. And boy is our killer relentless!
The one thing that was missing for me, which every Slasher should have, be it a dark realistic one, or over the top silly stalk-n-slash - a chase scene! We could definitely have had a fun and thrilling chase scene to lead us into the 3rd act.
Of course the film does suffer from some of its tension building scenes being entwined with extraordinarily dumb decision making by its characters, but this is a goddamn HORROR, and its what characters do in our beloved genre!
I don’t want to go into too much depth in regards to plot as I’d like to keep this relatively spoiler free, especially for the American audience, but suffice to say Open 24 Hours is a compelling and exciting Slasher, which should satisfy many fans of the sub genre, and even pull in a few fans that usually disregard the world of Slasher films.
Open 24 Hours is available on VOD in the UK NOW. Released in the US August 18th.