Film Review: 'Capps Crossing'
A camping trip turns into a horrific bloodfest in a slasher film with as much heart as there is gore and mayhem.
It was supposed to be a relaxing trip out in the woods for this group of friends: Kyle (Marcus Parker), his girlfriend Kara (Isabel Siragusa), Rob (Alex Acosta), and his girlfriend Robin (Ashley Sullivan), and Robin's sister Jessica (Quenya Tuck). Even though the group is disappointed to see Jessica's reckless and insensitive boyfriend Justin (Parker Alexander) has joined the party, it seems the getaway will be one of drinks, fun, and relaxation.
But what the group doesn't realize is that they aren't alone in the forest: a disturbed young man named David (Brian Cory) has been stalking the forest ever since his girlfriend's death, killing anyone who dares to come into his forest. With David targeting the group as his latest batch of victims, tension among friends will soon become the least of their problems.
Those going into Capps Crossing can't be faulted for thinking it will be a by-the-book slasher film, given that its plot follows a very familiar beat: young 20-somethings go camping, and end up on a murderous psychopath's chopping block. But as written and directed by Mike Stahl, this slasher film sets itself apart by giving excellent development to its main cast. Unlike similar slasher films of this nature, which tend to have the slasher's victims as either bland stereotypes or annoying jerks that you can't wait to see get butchered, Capps Crossing has a cast of generally likable characters, who truly care for each other in spite of the tension that arises among them. While the film seems to be setting Justin up to be the unlikable jerk of the group, Parker Alexander's nuanced performance (particularly during the group's second act falling out) allows him to be as likable and sympathetic as the rest of the campers.
The rest of the cast give great performances as well, developing through their emotional deliveries the relationships behind their characters. A highlight of this is Ashley Sullivan and Quenya Tuck's chemistry as sisters, with a particularly touching moment between them occurring after the aforementioned falling out. Tuck especially brings a lot of authentic emotion to the shy and insecure Jessica, and Marcus Parker delivers the film's most heartwrenching scene with awe-inspiring power. This not only allows these characters to become more than just stale kill fodder, but provides a suspenseful viewing experience, as you'll be cringing as you wait for the inevitable moment when the characters you've grown to care about start getting needlessly slaughtered.
Speaking of, as played by Brian Cory, David makes for an incredibly frightening slasher, with his bloodlust being equal only to how absolutely psychotic he is. Cory holds nothing back in playing David as an arrogant, unhinged, and misogynistic killer, from the insults and taunts he spits at his prey to the looks of remorseless disgust he gives most of his victims—particularly the females. In a refreshing twist that I was more than happy to see unfold, David's somewhat tragic backstory is not used as a haphazardly tacked on motivation, but rather as a means of showing the full depths of David's sick mind.
As strongly as Cory plays David, the dialogue Stahl gives him is not always the strongest, ranging from mildly odd (his retort to one of his opening sequence victims' pleas for mercy regarding his grandmother) to outright ridiculous (his use of credit card lingo during one of his kills). There's also some Birdemic quality CGI used in the opening to absolutely no necessary purpose, and the opening would've been more emotionally impactful had the first of the film's two opening victims been cut out as well. The film's middle act takes a deliberate pace, and while this is necessary for the character developments that occur, there's a lot that could've been cut or reduced to avoid boring more impatient viewers.
SPOILER ALERT: The film also came dangerously close to having an unwarranted Downer Ending, but is ultimately saved from a sour conclusion by an unexpected last second twist and a brief shot that suggests one of David's victims might pull through and put a stop to his carnage. SPOILERS OVER
If you can stomach these flaws, Capps Crossing remains a strong installment in the often mocked "low budget slasher" sub-genre, its strong cast, character development, and an effective villain (cheesy dialogue withstanding) make it a cut above similar horror films made on a shoestring budget. Come to Capps Crossing for schlocky gore, stay for the unexpected depth.
Score: 9 out of 10 geocaching hikers.