DEL PLAYA * U.S.A. 2015 Dir: Shaun Hart. 101 mins
This week’s bit of movie advice: never trust a slasher movie that opens with an Oscar Wilde quote. Writer-director Shaun Hart’s DEL PLAYA seems equally influenced by Rob Zombie’s HALLOWEEN and Gus Van Sant’s ELEPHANT as it initially follows an ostracised, love-sick teen (Alan Ayala) – bullied by his peers at school and his stereotypical white trash stepfather at home – whose obsession with an unobtainable girl (Devon Barnes) ends in violence. Subsequently, Barnes is traumatised and gulping down meds when a masked killer starts offing her friends.
Like the recent SOME KIND OF HATE, this movie has a misplaced sense of self-importance, which means lengthy scenes of solemn teenagers pondering over the meaning of life – punctuated occasionally by a hoodie-wearing killer butchering a succession of unsympathetic characters who look like GAP models. The pace is deadened by assorted tedious U.S. indie drama / teen soap sub-plots, including the intense dilemma of whether or not our heroine will…drop her psychology major (gasp!). What’s more, Hart’s endless slo-mo montages and precisely framed tableau of high school life (seemingly influenced by DONNIE DARKO and sometimes accompanied by lens flares) makes this one of the more ponderous slashers of recent vintage. For all its thematic and stylistic pretensions, it ultimately falls back, when it needs to, on cliched slasher tropes, including late night swims, aborted shagging sessions (in which people keep their pants on during penetration) and a logic-defying scene of a girl wandering around in just her pants just so she can be tied to a table with her boobs out for some leery titillation.
Review by Steven West