Thanks to technology decreasing in price and increasing in its ease-of-use over the past several years, just about anybody can make a feature-length film these days. For example, I am an amateur filmmaker myself, and I made a 25-minute horror flick on a budget of less than $50. Granted, it’s not a very good film, but I’ve been told it’s somewhat entertaining.
Because of this recent affordability, genre movies are coming out of the woodwork, with horror films leading the pack. Slasher flicks are one of the most prominent types of horror film I see in this trend, probably because they are generally cheaper than most others (creature features have to have a budget for the monster, haunted house and possession flicks usually have to have “invisible” special effects”, etc.) to make. As such, there are TONS of B- and C-grade movies for connoisseurs of every level to “enjoy”.
The point I’m trying to make is this: in an ocean-sized pool of repeating horror staples and rehashed fright elements, good filmmakers have a hard time separating themselves from the rest. But every now and then, a low-budget feature comes along that impresses and entertains. These films are usually fun and full of heart.
Such is the case with THE STITCHER, a 2007 film from Oklahoma. It is a low-budget jaunt into familiar territory, but it has enough originality and soul to satisfy even the heartiest of horror fans. And while it’s not perfect, it is still a heck of a film despite its flaws, and it’s a worthy addition to your Halloween viewing agenda.
If you are not familiar with THE STITCHER, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of VCI Entertainment:
From the director who brought you “Toe Tags” and “Branded” comes a new face of terror. Something strange is happening in this eerie backwoods town. An ordinary town that could be miles from your own home. Inspired by true events, a group of friends must survive the weekend in order to escape the terror that is beyond their imagination. Desperate and fearing for their lives, the horror surges when a legendary killer wants something they all possess. They soon find out the town is not what it seems, and with no hope of rescue, they must find their way out before they fall victim to the Stitcher’s obsession. This blood curdling story is a shock a minute horror rush, that will make you never want to wear certain pieces of clothing again.
I am bracing myself for the attempted arguments I feel are headed my way. Many folks will probably disagree with my assessment of this film, but most have probably never tried to make a film themselves. It is a toiling, exasperating effort that can be rewarding and fun while on set, but then brutally cruel when critics start picking apart the finished result. Because of this, and because I am familiar with what is involved, I try to look at how much effort was put into a film before I start dissecting it.
THE STITCHER is shot fairly well and looks good onscreen for the most part. I only found a few scenes that looked “off”, in terms of shot quality. Similarly, the sound isn’t half bad, either. Many lower-budget films tend to sacrifice sound quality for the sake of special effects or acting talent. Not so here, thankfully.
And speaking of acting, the cast isn’t too shabby, although I don’t think anybody will win any awards for their performances. Still, I have seen MUCH worse, and the folks in this film never forced me to drop out of my immersion into the movie because of bad or over acting.
The story is what really wins me over. The pacing starts off a bit slow, but when the bodies start piling up, the intensity and intrigue rise with them. And the big reveal is nice, as well; I had no inkling who the killer really was prior to unveiling, so it was a nice surprise.
My major complaints about the film are minimal. A couple of the actors overdo a bit with their roles, and some of the “redneck” aspects are too over the top to take seriously. Also, I would have liked more special effects (i.e. gore). We don’t get much, and I feel every decent slasher needs a nice helping of carnage.
Yet overall, THE STITCHER is entertaining and fun, a low-budget slasher that is rife with heart and guts (no pun intended…ok, yeah, maybe a little bit…). Director Darla Enlow shows talent and determination, two characteristics that are vital to success in film. Interestingly, this film is the last and most recent listed on her IMDB page, so I’m curious as to what she’s been up to for the past decade. Hopefully, she’s plotting another horror flick.
THE STITCHER is available now through VCI Entertainment.