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May 2010

Stag Night

cast: Kip Pardue, Karl Geary, Vinessa Shaw, Breckin Meyer, and Sarah Barrand

director: Peter A. Dowling

85 minutes (18) 2008
widescreen ratio 16:9
Kaleidoscope DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 4/10
review by James A. Stewart

Stag Night

If you think this movie is going to be about a bunch of lads on a boozy weekend getting up to all sorts of fun and frolics in Amsterdam or Prague then think again. The premise for the night out is merely a vehicle for getting said lads together and to put them through some quite torturous methods of death in the dark tunnels of New York City (actually, it was filmed in Sofia).

Stag Night may well have been called 'Birthday Party' or 'Leaving Do' but one thing is certain, the title changing would have done nothing for the quality of what is a pretty poor film. It starts off with, as the Americans call it, a 'bachelor party' - for Mike (Kip Pardue), who, along with his two friends and troublesome brother, get into a ruckus with some other customers at a strip-joint - not the only clich´┐Ż in the movie - and are tossed out into the streets by the heavy-handed bouncers.

But the night is still young and Mike's brother Tony (Breckin Meyer) convinces the group to get on the subway and find another titty bar. On the train they meet a couple of strippers on their way home who, after a brief confrontation, force the doors of the train and end up in one of many deserted stations in the NYC subway system - and the stags follow. The thing is; these tunnels are the domain of a group of feral killers who like nothing better than an imaginative murder. The rest of the plot follows like you would expect: chase and kill... chase, lucky escape... chase, kill, etc.

There are some really strong points about Stag Night which when contrasted with the low points serves only to increase the frustration of the end product. The pace is excellent; it is literally scene after scene of action and suspense. The direction isn't all that bad and the score is pretty decent too. In addition, some of the acting is not without merit. Vinessa Shaw (The Hills Have Eyes remake) is particularly impressive.

However, the two major gripes about Stag Night have to be the somewhat bizarre behaviour of the lost strippers and stags who show all the zest of a slug on Valium when it comes to recognising the gravity of their situation, especially when watching the killers hunt, and the scenes are, well, too brightly lit for a supposed series of abandoned tunnels.

In respect to the former point, this grates time and again throughout the film. There are some quite frankly preposterous reactions to danger, and in some cases the attempts at comedy are ill-timed and unfunny. The whole premise of the film falls down with this failing and seriously the only marketable feature in Stag Night thereafter is the gore realised through some pretty brutal killings.

The lost-in-a-series-of-tunnels mini-genre is a limited one for sure and many aficionados of horror laud Creep as being the leader in this narrow style of scary movie. I suspect Stag Night will be remembered more for the things that shouldn't have happened: how apt.



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