Christopher Harrison, writer-director of Left for Dead really, really loves John Carpenter's Halloween. I mean, the dude really adores it. How else can you explain that the musical score by Marinho Nobre sounds very similar to Carpenter's iconic theme music, the fact there's scenes of people walking slowly down sidewalks while our killer watches from the distance, or that the mask our killer sports here (pale white with long blonde hair) looks suspiciously familiar. And I'm not, for a second, going to buy that Harrison intended to do all this as a homage to 80's slashers - that's just an excuse to be lazy and not attempt much in the way of plot (and, to a lesser extent, give you grounds to copy off older, and better, slasher flicks).
The yawn worthy set-up goes as follows: on Devil's Night a group of frat boys chase down and accidentally kill someone in the woods after they've done something to piss them off. Fast-forward to a year later and our frat boys have been doing a good job of hiding the skeleton in their closet. But that's all about to change as they start being knocked-off one-by-one by a masked killer who's out to take vengeance for their act of a year prior. There's also a mildly interesting batch of flashbacks telling the urban legend of a psychotic sausage farmer who's using a special ingredient - and just happens to have escaped from the asylum.
And that's about all you're going to get in the story department. There's some passing attempts at mild characterization in the first half-hour but that soon gives way to multiple, generally weak, death scenes as our disposable cast is snuffed left-and-right to keep the body count high. Which is all fine and dandy when you consider the average Friday the 13th movie had an average of one kill every five minutes but the problem here is they're all uninspired and cribbed off other movies. Hell, even an early scene where a couple making out by the lake are shot gunned to death by our nutty farmer is taken directly from William Lustig's Maniac.
And that's the main problem with Left for Dead. It never carves out its own identity with Harrison seemingly happy to crib ideas from the filmmakers and movies he enjoyed as an impressionable young horror fan. There's never any effort made to step outside of formula and even though there's a gratuitous shower scene and Danielle Harris (Rob Zombie's Halloween, Halloween 4) shows-up to add yet another low-budget genre flick to her ever growing resume, I found myself to be a bit bored with it all and busy chuckling at such ridiculous scenes as when one character twists his ankle while jogging and cries like a baby about it.
Apart from Harris I wasn't familiar with most of the youthful cast though Steve Byers, as "hero by design" Tommy, has appeared in plenty of television shows such as "Falcon Beach" and Shawn Roberts has had minor roles in George A. Romero's Land of the Dead and Diary of the Dead. Nobody here really makes much of an impression and I felt that Harris really was only here for name recognition as she drifts in and out of the film notching minimal screen time.
Left for Dead is the kind of slasher movie I find myself annoyed at. It's content to sit there playing copycat while tossing out some mild genre references and offering absolutely nothing of interest. Maybe Harrison does have an innate love of horror films but, judging from this, maybe he should've just remained a fan only. (Chris Hartley, 7/31/09)
Directed By: Christopher Harrison.
Written By: Christopher Harrison.
Starring: Steve Byers, Danielle Harris, Shawn Roberts, Robbie Amell.