FLAY ** USA 2017 Dir: Eric Pham 94 mins
Although boldly sacrificing nudity and gore in favour of (attempted) atmosphere and menace, this ponderous supernatural-slasher is unable to overcome a feeble script and self-conscious stylistic distractions.
A clunky chunk of pre-titles exposition sets up the origin story of the vengeful antagonist (a captured, flayed medicine man who placed an enduring curse on a town) before we’re introduced to the story’s central siblings, amusingly named “Moon” and “River”, both mourning the recent death of their junkie Mom. Dalton E Gray is charmless as the annoyingly angry brother River, while the movie wastes no opportunity to linger over gratuitous scenes of Elle LaMont’s Moon in her underwear or low-cut tops. Almost nothing happens for an hour or so, other than some very dull cops saying things like “There’s something that reminds me of a curse from 20 years ago…”, while the faceless threat is flanked by irritating digital FX. There’s no one to sympathise with, and the likeable A Michael Baldwin (Mike in the PHANTASM movies) is underused as Moon and River’s Dad. In the Dialogue Face-Palm department, someone actually uses the line “It will JFK you…” before another character has to explain what it means (“it will blow your mind…”).
Review by Steven West