Death Stop Holocaust

Year:   2009
Director:  Justin Russell
Cast:  Lisa Krenisky, Jenna Fournier, Beverly Kristy, E. Ray Goodwin, James Emmet Lenahan

Taylor and Elizabeth decide to take off for a weekend of rest and relaxation at the remote island vacation home of Elizabeth's father.  As soon as the two young women arrive on the island, they are terrorized and stalked by an unknown assailant in white van.  When the two stop at a truck stop diner for food, the villain empties there gas tank, leaving them stranded on the island to be systematically stalked and tortured by a small throng of masked killers who seem to have a strange hold over the townspeople.

Less like a film and more like a stream of consciousness nightmare, Death Stop Holocaust presents itself in the faux grindhouse style that has seen a slight resurgence over the last few years.  The plot is paper thin and once the two girls begin being stalked by the killers, all bets are off in making any rhyme or reason out of what is going on.  This is the type of film that is better just to sit back and watch than to try to make any sense out of, and the ending certainly raises more questions than answers.   Shot on a tiny budget, the film actually looks great.  Lighting is used very effectively, unlike what is commonly seen in low budget films.  There are some truly creepy and disturbing scenes, particularly because of the pig head masks worn by the killer.  There is a real tension and unsettling atmosphere that is created, partly because of the remote setting utilized, but also because of the manner in which specific shots are framed in order to highlight the three intimidating killers lurking nonchalantly in the background.  Additionally, the performances are all top notch, particularly from lead Lisa Krenisky, who certainly has potential to become something of a B-movie Scream Queen.  She oozes charm and charisma, and while the vast majority of her performance requires her to scream and wail in terror, she does it oh-so-convincingly.  For the gorehounds, there are a few impressive gore effects present, particularly considering the film's budget (listed as $13,000 on IMDB), but this film seems more concerned with generating tension and uneasiness.  Certainly the scene where the killer, disguised by the eerie and malevolent pig mask, is chasing the heroine through the woods with an power dry wall saw will cause a few goosebumps and certainly recalls the similar scene with Leatherface chasing Marilyn Burns in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. However, despite some definitely strengths, the film does hit a few bumps as it progresses.  First, it becomes repetitive and tedious as the killers stalk the victims, catch them, let them escape, stalk them, catch them, let them escape, stalk them, etc... 

The main issue that most horror fans will have with the film is that the ending will have them asking "Okay, so what was the point?"  This is a shame because the film does so many things right that the fact the obvious issues with the story were overlooked is frustrating.  The film is more focused on style than substance, and at times it seems like it cannot decide whether it wants to be a slasher film, a supernatural film, an exploitation film, or something altogether different.  There seems to be no real goal to many of the scenes, resulting in the mentioned stream of consciousness feel, and most of the times it feels as if there was no script--just the filmmakers and actors improvising.  The ultimate result is an interesting film that never resonates with the viewer the way it should or could have

Fright Meter Grade:

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