DIRECTOR: David Paulsen
WRITER: David Paulsen
After a woman divorces her politician husband after he is involved in a scandal. She decides to head to upstate New York for the weekend with her new boyfriend and a couple of friends. When they arrive at the rural, lakeside cabin, they soon meet the local man who has hired them out the cabin and they soon hear rumours about him. He was apparently involved in a murder. When a masked killer starts to attack the cabin, they believe it may be this man and must fight for survival.
Savage Weekend is a slasher that I've tried to watch twice over the last month. The first time, I stopped watching the movie when I got to the scene involving a woman being branded with a hot iron, and I must have not been in the mood for it that day. I turned it off and planned to revisit the next day. It never happened. The movie sat on my slasher retrospective list for over a month before I decided to try and revisit it. It seems time wasn't too kind on a second viewing.
Looking at the poster for Savage Weekend, you could be mistaken for thinking you're about to watch a movie where a masked killer dresses up as death and uses a scythe to dispatch of his victims. This is a case of the marketing team being extremely clever and giving us a piece of poster art that turns out to be much better than this Savage Weekend. This seems to be happening a lot with my dive into the slashers from the seventies and eighties.
With Savage Weekend, it feels like two different movies have been sewn together. The film opens with a woman who has just divorced her politician husband after a scandal. We see her and a group of friends heading to a cabin. For an hour of this supposedly Savage Weekend, it isn't very savage. It doesn't even feature a masked killer for the first hour. What we have here is a weird collection of scenes involving flashbacks, bar fights, a man branding a woman who we believe could be the possible killer, nudity and lots of conversation between characters. Nothing really happens.
The last thirty minutes is where the movie starts to head into more slasher territory. The killer begins to dispatch the group of friends, but after waiting an hour for proper carnage, it feels like a bit of a letdown. There isn't all that much and what is shown, is kept mainly offscreen. The first half involving the flashbacks of the cabin owner being a possible killer is more gruesome than the final thirty minutes where the killer finally starts to strike and take out the group of friends.
The reveal of the identity of the killer is also pretty basic. From the very first moment that we are introduced to the character. It's pretty predictable where things are going to go and who the killer will be. With lots of creepy rural, flannel wearing, pornstache men to be found in the movie. The red herring is always going to be the redneck ex-murderer. So I tend to look elsewhere, and from the moment we find out what puts this woman and her group of friends at this cabin, it's easy to figure out our killer.
One aspect of Savage Weekend that I really enjoyed was that the movie features a gay character who isn't a total stereotype. While he puts on makeup towards the end of the film, he manages to beat up two homophobes in a bar fight. I loved that they didn't reduce him to being some weak person who in signs of trouble, can't defend himself. They made him sexual, they made him funny, and I thought that was a nice touch for back in the late seventies. Up until that point, I had mainly found blatant stereotypes in these films.
When it comes to the scares and tension, this movie felt pretty dry. Not once was I really on edge here. I found that Savage Weekend wasn't really keen on delivering jump scares at all. What this movie went for was mood and tension that it just sadly couldn't execute. I think it doesn't help that the masked used by the killer in this film looked unintentionally hilarious instead of scary. The final fight between the killer and boyfriend character also felt like a badly choreographed kung-fu movie with moments where a character would punch or kick the other guy, only for them to slowly throw themselves on the ground. The final showdown should've been intense, not hilarious.
The acting in Savage Weekend is hit and miss for me. An actor like William Sanderson is here in a small role that I didn't even realise was him until the credits began to roll and had to go back and check out his performance. My favourite performance was by Christopher Allport as our gay man. I thought he brought a lot of life and spunk to his character and performance. Not the comic relief but he was an incredibly fun person to watch. Where most of the others were dry, he looked like he had the most fun with his performance.
DEATH TOLL: 5
BLOOD AND GORE:
- A woman is branded on the chest with a hot iron. Flesh bubbles.
- A rat is stabbed.
- A bat is nailed to a hotel door.
- Someone is stabbed in the shoulder with a meat hook.
- A man is smacked in the head with a metal winch.
- A woman is seen running through the woods covered in blood.
- A man has his head smacked against a rock. Coughs up blood.
- A man falls out of a window and onto metal poles.
- The killer is hit in the back with a chainsaw.
- A guy steps on a fishing hook.
- A man grabs barb-wire and cuts his hand.
- A man is hit in the leg with a machete.
- Someone is stabbed in the ear with a large sewing pin.
- A man is strangled to death and hung by his neck in a barn.
- Two men are beaten up in a bar brawl.
- A woman is killed while strapped to a table saw.
What Savage Weekend does successfully is that it delivers on the weird. It's a slasher film that doesn't really feel all that much like a slasher until an hour into the film. This rural, cabin in the woods horror film has an enjoyable performance from Christopher Allport and a nasty scene or two, but it lacks tension and suspense. The killer reveal is also extremely predictable. A film that will probably get lost in the many decades of the slasher genre.