I have to say as I free fall towards the age of 30, I’m finding that I’m enjoying parties less and less. There seems to be three stages of parties throughout your life. The first kind you encounter are those synonymous with pass the parcel and jelly and custard. Then comes the second stage: the house parties. You know the ones. Drinking copious amounts of alcohol and doing the kind of things that horny teenagers do. Pretty much like an episode of Skins. Then when you reach a certain age, you find yourself trapped in the third stage. Drinking wine and talking money with total strangers. Coldplay on the radio and, “You really must tell me how you made that lovely cheese dip.” It’s all bollocks, really, isn’t it?
Oh well, I suppose it could be worse. You could be invited to a party where you and the guests are stalked and picked off one by one by an anonymous killer like the protagonists of the new Lionsgate release, Steel Trap. Actually it doesn’t sound that much worse.
During a New Year party in an abandoned skyscraper for some Nathan Barley media types, five of the guests get a strange text message inviting them to a VIP party on the 27th floor of the building. Being that colonic irrigation appears to be more preferable to the party they are currently at, none of them questions this message and head straight up there. They are welcomed to the exclusive party by the nursery rhyme Boys and Girls, Come Out to Play, and are presented with what looks like a child’s party. On a table there are name tags but with nicknames for the characters, such as “heartless” and “two-faced bitch”.
Now, upon seeing this I would bid everyone farewell and call it an early night, but, of course, the cast acts as if it’s nothing. It’s not long before they find themselves trapped by a masked psycho who begins to play disturbing games with them. Can they find out what links them all together and escape before being killed?
I’m just going to cut to chase and say that Steel Trap is not a good film. In fact, it’s very bad. The promotional material for the film would have you believe that it’s on a similar par to the excellent Cube or the passable (but very marketable) Saw series, with the tagline: “Surviving each floor is the name of the game.”
Utter tripe. Whilst they hint at a murderous game where, if you don’t get the clues right, you die, this is forgotten about pretty quickly. Even when the filmmakers adhere to these rules, it doesn’t make any sense, as the characters are seemingly picked off at random or by pure luck. But it’s not random, as the killer has a plan so fiendishly convoluted it makes the Joker’s in The Dark Knight seem practical. (Not dissing The Dark Knight, but go over the Joker’s plan again. It’s logically impossible.)
I grew disinterested in the characters by about the 15 minute mark, and five minutes of that was taken up by a band playing a rock version of Auld Lang Syne. They are such an irritating lot that if I’d been in the group, the killer would have turned up to find the job already done. I’d love to solely blame the screenwriters, but the cast have to take a lot of the blame as well. Even Paul Newman would have had trouble conveying the emotions with the woeful dialogue in the film, but the actors don’t even try to be convincing. It’s that special kind of acting that I like to call ‘porno acting’. You know, the kind you see in porn films, but without the distraction of the shagging.
As the film builds (or should that be drags?) towards the climax, and characters are very boringly dispatched (can you guess how the character nicknamed “heartless” dies?), we finally discover the killer’s motives, and let me say, it’s one of the most WTF moments I’ve witnessed in recent years. I’m guessing the filmmakers would say it’s a twist and I’m guessing if you suspend all rationale you could describe it as one, but it’s just so pointless. Oh, and another slight point: isn’t a horror film supposed to be scary? Even a panic-ridden fainting goat would have trouble working up even a slight sweat during Steel Trap.
If I had to find any postitives (and it is really hard to do so), I’d have to say that the production values of the film are of a surprisingly high quality. The shots do look very professional, it’s just a shame that what they’re showing is rubbish.
I really don’t like ragging on films, especially after watching the ‘making of’ (the sole extra feature) where the filmmakers and cast seem to be trying so very hard to make a good film, but sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind. This is the sort of lazy, unimaginative flick that gives horror films a bad name. If I was given the choice between watching this again or attending one of the dinner parties I mentioned before, hand me the fondue.
27 January 2009