So, where to begin with 13Hrs? It’s a British horror film starring Gemma Atkinson (Hollyoaks and lad’s mag favourite), Gabriel Thomson (Michael in My Family) and Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy from the Harry Potter films). It also stars, in the lead role, Isabella Calthorpe, who manages to rise above most of the other actors and deliver a relatively convincing performance.
Calthorpe plays Sarah, a successful girl who has returned from her job in the US to visit her dysfunctional family in their rather swish house in the country to dispense advice to her father (he’s drinking himself into a stupor as he tries to make ends meet), talk about her mother (who may or may not be having an affair), and generally chastise her brothers, Charlie, Stephen and Luke.
Emily (Atkinson) appears to have shacked up with Sarah’s ex-boyfriend, Doug, much to the annoyance of Sarah and amusement of everyone else. What are best friends for? She’s also annoyed that Sarah hasn’t been in touch, leaving her all alone and whiny in the UK, whilst Sarah jets of to the US to be hugely successful.
Anyway, at some point, the family and friends realise that they have run out of booze and cigs and decide to go into the familial home to raid it. More prodding and antagonising takes place as they enter the house to find blood and a dismembered body.
We then get a lot of running and hiding, screaming, and dialogue so stilted that it practically stumbles over itself in an attempt to deliver the next terminally bad line.
Piecing together what has happened, the friends decide that something vicious is stalking the corridors of the house, eating them as it goes along, and that they need to escape (by going upstairs, then into the loft).
The stalking creature is only seen in glimpses and using a rather interesting point-of-view shot that gives you a sense of the predatory nature of the creature as it races around trying to kill the annoying youngsters.
Gradually, each character becomes a caricature. Stephen becomes arrogant, Charlie becomes brave, Emily becomes overly emotional (and then strong), Doug helpful. Sarah, on the other hand, covers all these bases and it’s a credit to Calthorpe that she delivers the dubious dialogue with conviction.
Thankfully, rescue isn’t too far away (in a fashion) and, by the final act (if you’ve got this far), truths come out, betrayals are handled, honesty rewarded, people live, people die, humanity wins out and a bloodline will continue.
It would be too easy to blame the lacklustre characterisations on poor delivery, but each of the cast seem to be doing the best they can with a script that is shockingly bad. Felton does well in his rather limited role of Gary, the joker of the bunch who makes the wrong comment at the wrong time and offends those around him. Even Gabriel Thomson manages to pull off the role of Charlie, though he is mired with the role of the straightforward brother.
There’s a nugget of a good idea here, a flesh-eating creature stalking the family to which it belongs, yet it’s let down with too much exposition early on (each family member at one point or another states how they are related to another family member) and not enough explanation later (what caused the creature to come into existence in the first place? I would have been happy if someone had found a scrap book, lost letter, bit of film footage to help us understand why things were the way they were.)
So, the script isn’t great, the acting isn’t awful. But what about the rest of the film? The film is quite well shot, though does signpost things occasionally. That said, the opening sequence features a really quite effective drive down a country road where very little can be seen.
The point-of-view shot for the creature isn’t new but works. The special effects are better than you might expect, though you do have to wait until the end to see the best moments. It was just the script that let it down, and it’s a real shame.
The title refers to the number of hours the group have to survive before sunrise, though this isn’t really made clear. There’s a full moon, so you’d be expecting a werewolf movie and there are a fair few hints of this, though it’s not really made clear until the closing act.
With a runtime of just over 80 minutes, the film manages to underdevelop a fairly interesting idea and leave the viewer disappointed.
13 Hours will be released on October 25 and can be pre-ordered from the Den Of Geek Store.