When I read about The Roost, I thought I would end up liking it to some degree, but all it led to was the feeling of being let down and cheated. The opposite happened after I watched Rich Ragsdale’s The Curse of El Charro. I expected complete idiocy, and wound up watching a mildly decent slasher.
The only trouble is, that only occurred in the final 15 minutes of a 90 minute film!
The story centers on El Charro (Andrew Bryniarski), a man scorned by the one he loved generations ago. He fell in love with a woman, but basically she blew him off. So, like any jealous lover, he turned around and slaughtered her entire family. Nice guy. The loving towsfolk took matters in their own hands, “Elm Street” style, and killed El Charro themselves. But, before he died, he cursed his would-be lover’s entire bloodline.
Enter Maria (Mia Hoyos), a direct descendent of said bloodline. Already borderline insane due to her sister’s sudden suicide, she decides to take a long weekend with her three pals in beautiful Arizona. No, not at Lake Havasu City like most spring breakers… they decide to go to some small desert hole-in-the-wall town, presumably to beat the crowds and the exorbitant hotel prices!
The first hour of this film seems to take an eternity to go by, as chances of developing these characters go by the wayside. Instead, we suffer through a steady diet of obscure flashbacks, transparent college kids, terrible dialogue, and even poorer delivery. However, once El Charro makes his grand entrance, this tortoise of a film turns into a hare of a slasher.
When our four (never would be friends in real life) girls return to their spring break sanctuary with their boys for the night, things really begin to pick up. They all split off into pairs and do their own thing… which, being a slasher, I’m sure you can figure out exactly what that is. One by one, El Charro offs these punks in gruesome fashion. We are talking serious amounts of expendable meat here, folks.
Personally, I was rooting for El Charro not only because I’m sadistic and I always root for the villain… but for the simple fact that I did not like any of the characters. Not even the proverbial “Final Girl” couldn’t get me interested in her well-being. Nope, as El Charro hacked, slashed, sliced and diced his way through these annoying coeds, I cheered for more. My only complaint with El Charro is I wish he had a little more variety to his killings. Bryniarski, who played Leatherface in the remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, seems to be stuck on the routine throat slashing and decapitations. Ho-hum gore if you ask me.
The only other great thing The Curse of El Charro brings to the table is a cameo by Motörhead frontman, Lemmy! While his role as a priest was fleeting, it did elicit a jolt of excitement midway through that first hour.
Everything else was barely passable for a decent horror film. The acting was very poor all around, and that is not even a product of terrible writing… although the writing was terrible indeed. The story lacked any sort of forward motion whatsoever. Basically we meet these young women… a lot of nothing happens… and an hour or so later, they start to die. Writer Ryan Johnson was definitely not trying to reinvent the wheel here, that’s for sure.
And, while Ragsdale succeeded in creating some great photography and lighting early on (say, the first five minutes), his continual usage of smash cuts, annoying music, and lousy dream sequences detracted from the rest of the movie. He does show some promise, however, as his short film, Into Something Rich and Strange, was actually quite entertaining. Perhaps he should stick to short films…
My two-skull rating here is very generous, just like that of The Roost. What can I say, I have been in a giving mood lately!
…And I apologize for that absurd The Tortoise and the Hare reference. I’ll do better next time.
Flick Figures: 9 dead bodies; female full-frontal nudity; gratuitous shower scene; car hood antics; throats slashed; multiple counts of various other hacks and slashes; machete-fu; bird-poking; hands roll; heads roll; and lots of twenty-something girls with extremely healthy lungs.