Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Perkins 14

There are a few DVDs from last year’s 8 Films To Die For /After Dark set still in my To Be Watched pile. I attribute this to the generally low quality of the previous releases under the imprint, but maybe I shouldn’t have judged these by past results, as Perkins 14 isn’t a bad little movie at all. Although the other thing they kept it down, fairly meh cover art is still pretty much meh, although you can look at it in this post and judge for yourself.

Stone Cove, Maine is a fairly somber little town. Ten years earlier, 14 children were kidnapped, and no trace of them was ever found, and the only clue authorities had was the final abductee bit off the finger of the kidnapper during his kidnapping. The disappearances have haunted the surviving parents of the children, including Deputy Sheriff Dwayne Hopper (Patrick O’Kane), whose son Kyle was the last victim. His obsession with finding his son nearly wrecked his life, and left him with a wife who is cheating on him and a daughter who is a walking talking ad for birth control. But after a decade, he has done his best to put it all behind him and go on. That is, until one fateful night when he’s working the graveyard shift at the jail.

It seems a local pharmacist named Ronald Perkins (Richard Brake) is being held overnight after being arrested for being belligerent during a traffic stop. This doesn’t seem to be important – until Hopper notices Perkins is missing a finger. Hopper is convinced that Perkins is the one who abducted his son, and the first half of the movie is a cat-and-mouse game between Hopper and Perkins, with Hopper trying to prove Perkins is the kidnapper before he must be released, and everyone else thinking Hopper has become obsessed again.

[SPOILER] It turns out Perkins was indeed the kidnapper. And rather than kill the children, he has kept them in cages in his home, torturing them and dosing them with drugs (Mostly PCP, it seems) to turn them into mindless killing machines. The movie abruptly changes tone when the now-grown children escape and go on a murderous rampage. Deputy Hopper has to find and protect his wife and daughter, and at the same time, figure out a way to free his son from insanity.

It isn’t a perfect movie. The first half, which is a quieter, psychological struggle, is much more effective than the more action-oriented second half, which seems very zombie-ish, and the transition between the two paces is a bit jarring. And, though the actors are all good in their roles, the character of the deputy’s daughter is written with a common irritating flaw: She is a kid so stupid she can’t get killed early enough to suit you. You know the type. If she is told to wait in safety and be quiet, you can be sure she will secretly tag along and scream “What’s happening?” at the worst possible time.

Still, a couple of minor flaws aren’t enough to keep Perkins 14 to be a scarily effective low-budget film. The acting and production values seem much better than most of its brethren, and the second half should please the zombie-loving crowd.

No comments: