Five Across The Eyes

Year:  2006
Director:  Greg Swinson & Ryan Thiessen
Cast:  Sandra Paduch, Mia Yi, Angela Brunda, Veronica Garcia, Jennifer Barnett

Five high school girls on their way home from a school football game get lost in a remote area known as "The Eyes" and must stop at a truck stop for directions.  While leaving, the driver accidentally backs into a parked SUV, busting its headlight.   In a panic, she decides to flee the scene, a decision that proves to have horrific consequences as the owner of the SUV, a sadistic and derange middle-aged woman, pursues them, terrorizing and brutalizing them throughout the night.

Admittedly, many will be immediately turned off by the blatant low budget of this film.  It is shot on cheap mini-DV camcorders and it shows; the Blair Witch style direction is present, with the extremely shaky and unfocused shots coming fast and furious, as the camera attempts to be a voyeur of the action taking place in the film.  The score sounds like it was generated on home computer.   Most of the cast are obviously inexperienced at acting and stumble through their line delivery, which often doesn't match the context of the situation they are in.   Simply put, this is the the lowest of low budget horror films and those who require the films they view to have glossy, polished production values will probably eject this film from their DVD player after the first ten minutes.    However, budget should be taken into consideration when critically analyzing a film.   A crucial question is how well did the film accomplish its intended purpose within the limitations of its budget?    This is where Five Across the Eyes scores points because despite its ultra low budget, the film has some highly effective scenes and the brutality and downright insanity of the female antagonist is chilling.  What she forces her victims to do and the torture that she inflicts on them will certainly cause even the most hardened horror fans to cringe.  Compared to recent films with literally fifty or a hundred times the budget (the estimated budget for this film is said to be $4000) such as the Prom Night or Friday the 13th remakes, this film certainly packs a bigger punch.    It is downright brutal and, at times, the low budget and resulting grittiness work in the film's favor, as it almost does become like the viewer is actually witnessing these things really happening, as if they were being filmed by one of the victims.    However, for the few things that work about the film, there are things that do not.   As mentioned, the acting, particularly from most of the teenage girls, is downright terrible at times---so much so that it becomes a distraction.  Certain plot elements require a drastic suspension of disbelief.   Still, the filmmakers should be applauded for actually having a vision and obvious passion for the project, which definitely shines through.

Cautiously, the film gets a recommendation to those who can appreciate a low budget film and what a crew can accomplish with very little funds.   Despite the obvious and glaring flaws, this is an intense film that is both ambitious and effective.   It will be interesting to see what the director is capable of doing with a larger budget, should he ever get that opportunity.

Fright Meter Grade:

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