Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Macabro ’18: Ruin Me

Getting hacked to pieces in the forest is bad enough. You shouldn’t have to pay for the dubious privilege. Unfortunately, that is about what happens to the ill-fated fans participating in the Slasher Sleepout role-playing game. It is all fun and games until people start losing lives and body parts in Preston DeFrancis’s Ruin Me (trailer here), which screens during this year’s Macabro in Mexico City.

Alex has never been a horror fan. She is also a bit high-strung, so it is really pushing it inviting her to come along on the Slasher Sleepout weekend. Her boyfriend Nathan ought to understand that, because he was her addiction counselor during rehab. Nevertheless, he convinces her to join him, because being stalked in the woods is super fun.

Weirdly, it is rather enjoyable for Marina and Pitch, a punky fan couple in an awkwardly open relationship. Naturally, Alex automatically picks up clues the fantasy game has ominously veered into reality. Yet, her stunningly unintuitive fellow game players remain steadfastly in denial. So, a good time is sure to be had by all.

Ruin Me takes off from the same basic premise as Vincent Masciale’s Fear, Inc., but the execution here is far superior, by a factor of at least one hundred. Whereas the earlier film drives us bonkers with constant its-just-a-game-no-its-not reversals, DeFrancis actually builds to a finale with bite. He also incorporates some funny, attitude-loaded dialogue, but never at the expense of the core slasher business.

As Alex, Marcienne Dwyer is pretty believably grounded and turns her big reveals quite nicely. However, Eva Hamilton steals scene after scene as Marina, the gothy hot mess. By the same token, John Odom is so flamboyantly obnoxious as Pitch, half the audience will want to kill him themselves, while the other half would keep him alive to stir up trouble.

DeFrancis definitely keeps things moving along at a good clip. Given the premise of the film, he has license to employ every tired slasher cliché, which he does, but he finds ways to give them sly twists. Clever and only moderately self-aware, Ruin Me is scrappily entertaining for horror fans. Already streaming on Shudder in the U.S., it screens this Thursday (8/23), Saturday (8/25), and next Tuesday (8/28) as part the 2018 Macabro International Horror Film Festival in Mexico City.