‘Don’t Look’ an above-average, female-led slasher flick

by Nick Spacek on May 14, 2019

in Blu-ray/DVD Reviews,Reviews

[Minor Rock Fist Up]

Don’t Look, out today on DVD and Video On Demand from Wild Eye Releasing, is the debut feature from director Luciana Faulhaber. Billed as a “unique, female-directed twist on horror films,” the film’s had an interesting history. The script seems to have undergone some changes from the plot outlined in the original Kickstarter pitch from back in 2014, but the process of bringing the feature from concept to screen took quite all a while: shooting began in May of 2014, and post-production didn’t finish until December of 2015.

All of this is to say that the movie might not be as fresh as possible – there are, for instance, some Justin Bieber jokes in the first few minutes which likely seemed all kinds of timely five years ago – but there’s obviously quite a bit of love behind it, and it’s something which shines through in the finished product.

Don’t Look is, at its core, a bog-standard slasher about a group of five friends who visit a house in the woods for a holiday celebration. Along the way, there’s sexual innuendo, creepy country locals, a mysterious secret from the past, and obviously people start getting murdered in horrific ways by a mysterious stranger in a creepy mask. The usual.

The cast isn’t made of teenagers, which actually gives everyone a bit of gravitas, and also means that the acting’s superior to much of the low-budget horror out there. It’s still not super-solid – Curtis K. Case as Alex is a little wooden – but the vast majority of the actors seems willing to go whole-hog into their roles. Jarrod Robbins and Hailey Heisick as Kelley and Sherri Baby, the creepy redneck couple who live near the cabin where the friends are staying, deserve special attention for their willingness to go full-freaky while chewing the scenery at every given opportunity.

Other than the cast, there’s not especially a lot to discuss, especially given that the storyline is so very very familiar. A few swerves here and there help keep the film entertaining, with the two women of the goup – Nicole (Lindsay DiFulvio) and Lorena (director Faulhaber) – showing none of the catty infighting so beloved of many slasher plot lines.

It’s also impressive that Don’t Look‘s director gets down and dirty in her role as Lorena. One would think that the director wouldn’t take a role which sees her stripped to her underwear and splattered with blood while surrounded by hanging animal carcasses, but Faulhaber does, and there’s something commendable about taking on some rough scenes while also bringing everything together.

Jessica Boucher‘s screenplay manages to move things along from set piece to set piece, and we don’t have to wait very long between shocks, scares, or freak-outs, so the rather-brief 70-minute runtime breezes right on by. The visual effects by Joshua Holly are admirably practical, and surprisingly nasty at times. There’s a lot of blood, and it sprays everywhere, and it’s not digital, which makes me beyond happy. The fire is unfortunately digital, though, so it’s a bit of a wash. Just because it’s cheaper to go the digital effects route, rather than have to deal with a pyro guy, doesn’t mean that you should. It has the unfortunate effect (pun intended) of underwhelming the intensity of a scene, when it could otherwise have been pretty powerful.

All said, Don’t Look doesn’t break any new ground in the world of slasher horror, but for a first feature, it’s really solid. There’s definitely a career out there for director Luciana Faulhaber, and if she can stick with cinematographer Sebastian Nieves to keep the professional look on a budget, she’ll be going places.

Nick is a self-described “rock star journalist,” which is strange, considering he’s married with two kids and three cats. This is just further proof that you can’t trust anyone online. In addition to his work for Scene-Stealers, Nick can be found bitching about music elsewhere on the Internet at his blog, Rock Star Journalist, and the Pitch’s Wayward Blog.

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