Stag Night review (DVD) ?

Stag Night is the first film directed by Peter A. Dowling, writer of 2005's Hitchcockian thriller Flightplan. Perhaps more interesting is that this low-budget ($3,000,000) horror is produced by Christopher Eberts, who worked in that same role on such films as 2004's The Punisher, Lord of War, and the brilliant Lucky Number Slevin. Oh, and it also stars Breckin Meyer, that guy from Road Trip.

So, with quite an impressive producer and writer attached, is the debutant director's end product worth writing about? Not really. The film has a lot of potential, if not for the fact that it's quite similar to Creep. The story is essentially Wrong Turn beneath the streets of New York City, where a group of lads on a bachelor party (stag night) and a couple of girls from a club they visited earlier in the night, are riding the subway, only to get off at a station that has been abandoned since the 1970s. After witnessing the brutal murder of a policeman, the partygoers come face-to-face with bloodthirsty killers who dwell in the tunnels, and they endeavor to escape the labyrinth that is the subway system with their lives intact.

As per the nature of the genre, of course, people die and a lot of blood is spilled. There are numerous scenes of conflict where the victims are pitted against the strange murderers, who sort of look like homeless Rastafarians. Unlike in Wrong Turn, the antagonists are not horribly disfigured, and in fact they're perfectly human, just confined to living beneath the streets and having no rules outside of their own communities. They're almost like tribesman in a modern day world.

The major problem with this film sticks out like a sore thumb, and that's the camerawork. Every time the good guys run into the bad, the camera starts having a fit. It is some of the shakiest and most uncomfortable cinematography I have ever seen. Films shot cinema verite do not have cameras that move as crazily as in Stag Night. So much so that I had to watch the film in two parts simply because I thought I was on the verge of a huge headache at one point.

Stag Night has potential, it's just that it's lost. You don't see too many slashers set in a subway system, but with this film that is the part that the film-makers not only ventured into, but got right. The picture was filmed in cheap-to-shoot Bulgaria, and the set feels authentic. There are some very nice shots of the guys and girls walking through the tunnels and it's all pretty claustrophobic. I would like to see what could have been done with this film if it had a greater budget.


Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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