chain letter | deon taylor | michael j. pagan | nikki reed | keith david | brad dourif | thriller | united states | slasher | michael bailey smith | matt cohen | david zahedian | cherilyn wilson | cody kasch | noah segan | eliot schwartz | betsy russell
Film: Chain Letter
Director: Deon Taylor
Writer: Deon Taylor and Michael J. Pagan
Starring: Nikki Reed, Keith David and Brad Dourif
This is an interesting film about technology and someone using it to find his victims. The official synopsis is a maniac murders teens when they refuse to forward chain mail.
Now I know all of us having lived in this era of technology that we’ve received a spam chain letter e-mail. Most of us scoff at how they are annoying and nothing will happen if we don’t send it off. Secretly it might make us worry for a little bit, but then we go about our day and forget. This film brings this to life. We learn that they are in the technology capital of the world, or at least that’s what I thought they said at one point. I will say that I like the idea of taking something like a chain letter that we’ve all seen and then making it into something much more dangerous. I even like how it is used to find the victims and that it could be used to track them as it is coming with a virus that allows them to track their phones. These are all good aspects to this story.
I think the problem here though is that nothing is completely fleshed out like it should be. We never learn anything about the killer except that he is a part of a cult. We never learn the back-story though and that is something I really enjoy getting. I’m not sure if the guy is supernatural or if he is just a large man that is strong. I feel that these are things that should have been explained and given to us. Instead the film just fills in a few things and I thought that was a bad choice. The film also ends kind of weird. What we see at the very beginning is what also happens at the end to bring the film full circle. I didn’t mind this, but it still left me wanting more.
The acting for the film left something to be desired. Michael Bailey Smith is good as Chain Man, but we never learn much about his character. He is just physically imposing and fits the role well. Nikki Reed and Cherilyn Wilson are both easy on the eyes and I liked that aspect of them for the film, but they leave something more to be desired in their performances. Brad Dourif is good as the teacher of their class, but he gets a little creepy. It does kind of make sense in the end. It is fun to see Betsy Russell and Keith David as well. They are both police officers trying to solve this case. The rest of the cast was mediocre at best though. They are just pretty bland to me.
A bright spot of the film is the effects. The kills and the blood in the film both look really good. They looked to be done practically and it almost seems like they focused on this instead of developing more of the story. I like the idea of using chains as well, going with the motif of the film. I did have issues with the effects that were used when technology was being used. The images would go weird and we’d see the same image of a red globe pop up. I felt it just was annoying and didn’t need to be used. It doesn’t enhance the film in any way.
The editing needed some work. I found myself bored through most of the film. It doesn’t build enough tension for a pay off. I think part of this is due to the film not adhering to the rules it is bringing forth. The letter states that they will die in 24 hours if they don’t send it. Well no one sends it and people are dying once a day. It is also confusing that one of the deaths could literally be an accident as well. I just feel there were issues here that need work.
The sound design of the film was pretty good though. I do feel that the selections for the scenes were good and definitely helped to heighten the tension of the scenes. I had no issues in this aspect of the film.
Now with that said, this film overall is average. It introduced some good concepts for the story, but it never fully fleshes them out. I do think that if they had been, this film could have been much higher as it has a good concept that everyone is familiar with. The acting is subpar aside from horror film veterans. The women cast in the film are good looking, which is also a perk. Another perk of the film is definitely the effects. The kills and gore are good. There is a stylistic choice to have the images distort and it is overused and annoying. The editing doesn’t build enough tension and I believe part of this up to ideas not fully fleshed out. The sound design of the film was good though. I would say that his is an average film. I wouldn’t recommend this to everyone, unless you are a fan of just bloody gory films. If not I’d avoid this.
My Rating: 5 out of 10