Hey gang, Valkor here. And I welcome you to a new year here at TOV's MediaView, where we showcase some of the best and worst films that are out now or soon to come. This next one isn't the best of the best, but it certainly isn't the worst I've ever sat through. Check it out its "Hold Your Breath" or #HoldYourBreath DVD depending on who you talk to. Beware, loads of spoilers ahead.
The story of Hold Your Breath begins in September of 1956 where preacher Dietrich Van Klaus (Keith Allen) is set to be executed amongst witnesses – members of the press and those who survived his vicious attacks. And during his final words, he attacks and kills a guard and rips out his own eye vowing revenge for those who put him to death (an eye for an eye). He's then executed and we switch to present day.
It's been 56 years since Van Claus was executed and the prison that held him has since been closed. Why is this bit of detail important? Well a handful of 20 something best friends – Johnny (Randy Wayne), Kyle (Seth Cassell), Tony (Brad Slaughter), Natasha (Erin Marie Hogan), Jerry (Katrina Bowden), Heath (Jordan Pratt-Thatcher), and Samantha (Lisa Younger) are off on a camping trip and in between their journey they pass through a cemetery where Jerry demands everyone hold their breath or else they'll possibly be possessed by the spirit so evil that even hell says "no way". Everyone except Kyle is able to perform the task, but since he was trying to toke up in the process, he ends up sucking in a lung full of Van Claus spirit. And thus begins the spiritual possession shitstorm as Kyle offs a cop and later passes the spirit off to Tony. He and Samantha drive off to find his lost bag, only Samantha gets slaughtered - sliced in half. Realizing the two have been gone awhile, the rest of the troupe set off to find them only to encounter a dead Sam and a possessed Tony, who's out for blood. They're rescued by former guard McBride, now the abandoned prison's caretaker. He explains to them the backstory of Van Klaus and his relation to him and the prison. Afterwards, he's able to pick out of the bunch, which person is currently possessed. Thus begin the hunt and the final confrontation of Van Klaus, which involves another spirit joining the fray.
Hold Your Breath is roughly 90 minutes of by-the-book horror from Asylum films. Normally with most horror films, I go in with low expectations. But when it comes to Asylum Films - The makers of such "classics" as "Titanic II" and "The DaVinci Treasure", I don't know how low I can go, but I will say this. It wasn't as painful as I would have thought.
Hold Your Breath is a straight forward horror that's cheesily entertaining. The plot is surprisingly well thought out, though there's one part that goes off the rails (read the next section), but overall it's a pretty good story. The level of gore ranges from medium to high with lots of eye gouging and one chick gets sliced in half. The effect is cheesy, but still cringe worthy. The acting is the films savings grace and while it isn't Oscar caliber, everyone does a decent enough job to carry the story through without things getting to be too boring. Kudos goes to Steve Hanks and his character McBride, who really lights a fire under this film's butt; he's got that crazy old man bit on lock! In the end Hold Your Breath isn't a terrible film; honestly, it's quite watchable. Oh and many thanks for the gratuitous T & A… heavy on the T.
It's right when the group enters the prison, that's when things go off track - nothing happens that works with the actual story. One couple goes off to have sex, one goes off to explore, and another group plays chicken with an old electric chair. And just when you think shits about to go down because the skies turn dark and there's tons of thunder and lightning… nothing! Sure a possessed Kyle tortures and kills a cop just outside the place, but he doesn't go inside to taunt the rest? Finally, the ending is kinda silly when another spirit makes an appearance and starts battling with Van Klaus. I just shook my head.
Sam getting sliced in half! Wait no, Heath taking an egg beater to the eye! Wait…
Hold Your Breath is making the limited theatrical rounds, is available on digital video and video on demand, and it'll be available in DVD/Blu-Ray format on January 22nd; Hold Your Breath isn't one of the best horrors out there; sure it has its weak spots, but in the end I found the film to be terrifying and entertaining. Something tells me this is the start of good things to come out of Asylum Films. And out of TOV 5 stars, I'll meet this film half way and give it 2.5 stars.