Hey gang, Valkor here. And welcome to TOV 2018. We’ve already kicked things off with GameView, so now we’ll switch gears over to MediaView and the latest film to cross my desk – Death on Scenic Drive. The film has its moments, but it’s too bad that it’s ultimately a lackluster experience. Major spoilers ahead!
“Death on Scenic Drives” centers on Larissa (Stephanie Ash), who’s doing a little mountainside house sitting for a family, who is off on vacation. With just her and the family dog, Larissa begins to settle in. But it doesn’t take long before things start to get a little creepy such as loud thumps from up above and other weird noises. But no matter how crazy things got, Larissa never left her post and continued onward with her day-to-day chores – even though there’s something clearly off about the place! Not only that but things start happening to Larissa as well, such as she starts acting like a dog, she later EATS the family dog, then goes on a killing spree, which includes taking out the neighbor Dallas (Ry Barrett) and eventually the family who lives there. The synopsis says that Larissa "encounters an entity that transforms her into death itself", and there was a point where a bearded guy in a dark cloak starts spooking up the place. However, is he supposed to be Death that transforms Larissa into Death? Or is he something else entirely? Did I mention that Larissa goes on a killing spree? That’s pretty much where the film ends. Actually, there’s also a brief scene where one of the daughters of the family members that survived the slaughter, wields a knife as a priest is driving off with her and her sister. So, does that mean she’s now possessed by Death? And what will happen to Larissa? That’s something we’ll never know.
I don’t always read the synopsis of a film before I view it – especially if it's on the indie side, because at times, what you get in the end isn't what you would expect. ButI did read the synopsis for “Death on Scenic Drive”. And in the end, the film felt like it should have been something different, something more.
Let me start out by saying the first 40 plus minutes of this 75-minute horror that is “Death on Scenic Drive” is the slowest parts of the film. But it’s the remaining moments that’ll grab you as Larissa's possession takes hold. And it’s just an insane ride from then on. The body count isn’t high, but it’s what she does that left me in awe - and she doesn't hold back! Finally, this is something I don’t normally comment on, but it’s definitely worth mentioning. But the cinematography is amazing! There are plenty of indie films out there I wish looked this good. And Scott McIntyre deserves all the accolades for giving Death on Scenic Drive a beautiful polish. While I do have my gripes with Death on Scenic Drive, there’s still enough positive left in the film that's worth sitting through, if you’re willing to take on the endeavor.
My first issue with the film is with the pacing as some scenes stretch on way longer than they should. If it were for building up tension then I’d rethink that and maybe knock off a minute here and there. Next, I’m still not sure about Larissa becoming "Death". Consider the fact that the entity that shows up doesn't come out and say he's Death. And it could have easily been a nameless demon from wherever. That's not really a negative towards the film; it's more of an observation that didn't sit right with me. Next, as I mentioned in “The Good” section, the film takes a good 40 minutes plus for anything to happen. Sure, you get a few bumps, some howling winds, some creaks, and a few other occurrences, but nothing that would be considered frightening. And speaking of occurrences, nothing fazes Larissa – nothing! Strange bumps in the night? Nope! Doors mysteriously opening? Nope! Acting like a dog and later eating the family dog? Nope! She gets a little tweaked, but she’s mad casual about the whole experience. Finally, and this is a bit of a nitpick, but how is it possible that the family returns and no one wonders what happened to the dog? They don't even raise an eyebrow; they just head straight off to bed.
I thought Larissa eating the dog was gonna get “The Ugly” nod, but when she took out her tampon and proceeded to give it a few licks? Yea, there’s our winner!
Death on Scenic Drive is available now in digital formats such as Google Play and Amazon Instant. And while I found the last half-hour to be the real main course in this horror dish, the overall film left me wanting something more afterward. So, out of TOV 5 stars, I’m giving Death on Scenic Dive a 2.5.