BAD APPLES ** USA 2018 Dir: Brian Coyne 84 mins
After an unpleasant prologue in which a heavily pregnant woman is repeatedly stabbed by a home-invader, this Halloween-set variant on THE STRANGERS centres around an L.A. couple (Brea Grant, Graham Skipper). They move into a Rockwellian neighbourhood and are immediately warned by an eccentric neighbour of the local ‘Bad Apple’ – a persecuted sex offender. Their biggest problem, however, turns out to be a couple of creepy strangers in Halloween masks who take sadistic pleasure in staging fatal trick or treat visits around town.
Writer-producer-director Brian Coyne’s film shows initial promise, with an amusing cameo by HATCHET’s excellent Richard Riehle as a God-fearing, kid-hating Principal (the movie was shot by Adam Green’s regular cinematographer Will Barratt, who worked on all the HATCHET films) and enjoyable deaths involving the American flag and an ill-fated cat. Grant and Skipper are more engaging protagonists than most, and it’s largely played straight for suspense and dread. Sadly, the back-story weighs it down, the attack scenes are mostly bungled, and the script meanders its way to an unremarkable climax. Its biggest crime, however, proves to be a particularly dreary coda, which goes on so long, and showcases such horrible acting, that we can only assume it was hastily shot when the real movie needed more footage to qualify as feature length.
Review by Steven West