The clichéd adage of “never judge a book by its cover” has never been more apparent than it is when considering Junior. Go on, look at that cover. Not too bad, right? In fact, the only reason I bought this in the first place was because of the whole My Bloody Valentine vibe I got from it. You think I’d learn considering just how many low-budget, low grade horror flicks that have crossed my path in the past. What makes this different, if you’re grasping at straws like I am, is the fact that it’s one of the few slasher flicks made in Belgium.
Originally going under the more appropriate title, Engine Trouble, things don’t exactly get off to a stellar start as we’re treated to an overlong sequence involving a woman lazily combing her hair and putting on make-up during a stormy night that ends with her hanging herself with no explanation and seemingly having absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the movie until the script poorly tries to tie it into the story during the last third.
After that turd of an opening, we’re introduced to good friends Rebecca (Cecilia Bergqvist) and Sandra (Marlene Simons) who are hopping into a borrowed car and setting off on a vacation together promising to be filled with fun and adventure. Along the way they stop at a garage and meet the nutty old lady proprietor and are witness to a weird growling noise coming from behind a rattling door. Convinced by our elderly weirdo it’s just a dog (even though it would be impossible for a reasonable person to be); our friends are soon back on the road only for their car to break down.
Sandra goes off for help leaving Rebecca bored and by herself. A passing truck just happens to be from the same gas station and a quick fix of the car sends her back there to try and find her friend. Instead she winds up becoming the victim of a gas mask and bandaged head wearing psychopath who not only is quite an acrobat but also uses a curved blade to cut up his victims. This all leads to a whole bunch of badly shot suspense scenes (the sequence where Rebecca is under siege while trapped in her car annoyingly screaming is painful) on the way to a finale that riffs on Friday the 13th Part 2 while trying to be a European attempt to capture the vibe of Texas Chain Saw Massacre.
Inept is the best word to describe this. Director/co-writer Mark Ickx doesn’t have any idea how to stage scenes of horror even managing to make a decapitation scene boring and when you pair that with a script that’s muddled at best you’re in for trouble. If they were going for a distinct look for their killer they should have maybe not made him look like they basically rummaged in a trunk and threw together something in a few minutes. “Junior” (I suppose we’ll call him that) just looks ridiculous and while I did sort of dig his scythe-like weapon when he starts doing all these hardcore flips during the car siege I was too busy wiping tears from my eyes due to my unintentional laughter than being menaced. It’s also obvious English is the makers/actors second language due to the cast’s so-so grasp on it and the stale dialogue throughout.
The fact that my DVD copy of this crapped out for a few minutes about of the third of the way in, and that I felt relief for the break, doesn’t bode well for Junior. Unlike its 80’s brethren, where being a bad slasher movie could offer up some lowbrow fun, this made for an arduous 92 minutes and had me considering snapping the disc in half as soon as it was ejected from my player. Even slasher completists should avoid this. (Chris Hartley, 7/22/11)
Directed By: Mark Ickx.
Written By: Liam Bradley, Mark Ickx.
Starring: Cecilia Bergqvist, Bob Dougherty, Marcel Romeijn, Marlene Simons.