Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Vicious: Dutch Teen Horror

Every junior high student should be forced to watch slasher films, because bullies would be scared into nicer behavior. Carrie would be the classic case, but in scores of vintage 1980s horror movies, the killer is inevitably out to avenge a fatal case of bullying, as in the original Prom Night. Evidently, the new girl has a mysterious history of bullying that she could very well pay the ultimate price for—unless she is just escalating her tormenting ways in Dennis Bots’ Vicious, which is now available on VOD.

“What happens in the Ardennes, stays in the Ardennes,” Kim’s friends say. They think they’re joking. For some unfathomable reason, they have set off on a girl’s weekend at a classic “cabin in the woods” right when a blizzard is expected to dump on the mountains. Supposedly, it is their last chance to celebrate their friendship before finals, college, and real life happen, but the truth is they really far from being four Musketeers.

Pippa is the newcomer to the group. She also happens to be a trampy mean girl, who is determined to undermine Kim’s friendship with Abby, so she can become her new bestie. Feline is biding her time to come out of the closet, while Abby obsesses over Casper, her new boyfriend, whose family cabin they are borrowing. As for Kim, she is the sensitive one—and the claustrophobic one. Basically, Abby and Feline walk on eggshells around her, whereas Pippa goes out of her way to play with Kim’s head. It all sounds like typical teen angst, especially when a group of boys come over for a night of drinking, but then strange things start happening.

However, it sure takes long enough. It feels like forever before Vicious finally get going. Frankly, the film’s origins as a teen novel written by Mel Wallis de Vries are always conspicuous, because the violence is never worthy of a R-rating and the suspense is not very intense. Maybe it works better on the printed page, but on film, it is pretty easy to guess what is coming down the pike. Even more problematic, the not so surprising twist will leave most genre fans feeling colder than the frosty winds blowing around the Ardennes.

It is a shame Vicious is so by-the-numbers predictable, because Olivia Lonsdale as a real kick as the nasty scheming Pippa. You would never want to know her socially, but it is rather fun to watch her sneer and connive. Romy Gevers is quite a neurotic worrywart as Kim, but she also has her more forceful moments. Unfortunately, Abbey Hoes is rather dull and staggeringly unintuitive as her near-namesake Abby.

The truth is Vicious’s title promises more than it delivers. This film is about on par with Ten: Murder Island, Lifetime’s riff on And Then There Were None. It is certainly watchable, but not particularly memorable. A time killer at best for fans of teen horror, Vicious is now available on select VOD platforms, including iTunes.