Year: 2007
Director:  Chris R. Notarile
Cast:  Brandon Slagle, Niki Rubin, Stephen Muzzonigro, Charles Cyphers, Rachael Robbins

On his birthday, young Nicholas brutally murders his parents with a hammer.  His sister is able to restrain him and he is sentenced to spend his life in mental institution.  As he is probed by his doctor on a regular basis, it becomes apparent that there is more to Nick's madness than meets the eye.  He has been possessed by a malevolent force called "The Dollman."  And the Dollman has been biding his time, slowly and methodically planning his escape from the institution.  Twenty years after the brutal murder, he escapes to head back to his small hometown to finish his rampage, with his two surviving sisters as his main focus.

Apparently, director and writer Chris R. Notarile adapted Methodic from remake to Halloween that he wrote and planned to film.  Rob Zombie beat him to the punch, so with a few tweaks, he created his own effective, creepy, and brutal killer, The Dollman.  Methodic begins with some shaky "actual footage" of the fateful day of young Nick's birthday party and for the next twenty minutes or so, follows the Halloween plot almost to the tee.  However, once the film branches off into its own territory, it becomes a dark and sinister nightmare of its own.  It is obvious that Methodic was filmed with a miniscule budget, but it is also apparent that the filmmakers and actors made the most of what they had.  The performances are commendable (particularly from the males in the cast) and certainly outdo what is typical seen in low-budget slasher films.  Certainly the appearance of Charles Cyphers (from the original Halloween and Halloween 2) is a pleasant treat for horror fans.  Behind the camera, director Notarile demonstrates that he is more than capable of pulling off his own Halloween homage.  He frames some highly effective shots of the killer, wearing his creepy, self-made clown-like mask, lurking just in the background of the action.  An adequate amount of suspense and tension is built and the murder sequences, while brutal, are not overtly gory and the camera knows to pull away at just the right moment.  The Dollman's preferred method of killing has appropriately allowed this film to achieve the status as the first "basher" film, and the suggested brutality should be enough to make most wince.  The climax comes fast and furious and is extremely well done and is definitely where the film distinguishes itself from its obvious inspiration.

The main complications with Methodic are issues that mostly are do to budget constraints.  It certainly would be interesting to see what the filmmakers could have accomplished with a bigger budget.  However, there are some minor pacing issues and a few scenes either go on a tad too long or are unnecessary.  Like any slasher film, there are some minor plot holes (heck, even Halloween had a few of those) and there may be some viewers who cannot buy the abrupt, albeit unconventional, turn the film takes during the last act that moves it beyond typical slasher film, but may ruin the nostalgic, old school feel that it so successful creates for most of its running time.  Still, Methodic is film that does a lot of things right, mainly illustrating just what can be done with virtually no budget.

Fright Meter Grade:

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