Five high school cheerleaders drive out to a rural mansion to spend the weekend. They hear a thirty year-old urban legend about a young boy who killed his family and used their blood in his juvenile artwork. While exploring an old farmhouse on the property they discover that the boy never left his home and has grown into a sick and twisted man.
Grade C slasher can’t rise above its weak script
RELEASED IN 2007, “A Brush with Death” is a horror/slasher about five cheerleaders on retreat at a vacation home in the country of California. There's an abandoned house nearby that has an infamous history and the girls are intrigued by it. Meanwhile a couple local guys come sniffing around the girls.
There are three basic types of film: Grade A films are professionally-made theatrically released films, which includes everything from moderate-budget to blockbuster; Grade B films are low-budget movies that are either made-for-TV or direct-to-video and these include independent films or indies; Grade C movies are everything below this, which means they have micro-budgets or no-budgets and have an amateurish vibe to them; they’ll often strike you as more of a student movie than a legitimate one. "A Brush with Death" (2007) is definitely a Grade C film.
Sometimes Grade B films can be Grade A at heart because of the hard work and professionalism of the filmmakers and cast, like 2010's "Monsters,” which only cost around $800,000 but was so well-made that it came across as a Grade A film (which doesn't mean you'll like it, of course). I point this out because sometimes Grade C movies can theoretically be Grade B films at heart, or possibly even Grade A (albeit unlikely). “Another Kind” (2013) is a good example. It only cost $120,000, but it smacks of a modest-budget theatrical release.
I point all this out because, even though "A Brush with Death" is a Grade C film, it doesn't mean it HAS to be a stinker. With a budget of 200,000 the creators had considerably more resources than “Another Kind.” So I viewed it with an open mind in the hope that it would rise beyond its limitations. Unfortunately, it didn't. I'm very merciful when it comes to acting. I don't care how no-name the cast members are, if the acting is satisfactory it'll be convincing; if not, it won't. A lot of the acting in "A Brush with Death" is just unconvincing; not all of it, but too much of it. And some of it is downright laughable. Especially when the gas station man abducts & kills a girl and takes loads of pictures of her and, later, when the five protagonists break down on a country road and the man from the gas stations stops by to offer help. These were the first bad signs and the movie never really recovers from this low-level of filmmaking.
The only reasons I'm NOT giving "A Brush with Death" an F is because there's (barely) enough filmmaking talent here that the story moderately kept my attention for the first 50 minutes or so; plus there are some quality visuals, like the haunted house at night, and a few of the actors aren't bad (like the mentally challenged guy); moreover, a few of the girls are decent: Ali Thurlow as Candice, Nikki Cordell as Hillary and Seanna McDonald as Amber. Blonde Candice is easily the most beautiful, but she’s inexplicably gone by the 25-minute mark. The script was really lame in parts and it clearly needed more time to work out the kinks and flush out its potential, like George Romero did with "Night of the Living Dead” (1968). Unfortunately, it was rushed and this shows in the finished product. The flick should have never been released to video because it's that poor of a Grade C “film.”
THE MOVIE RUNS 81 minutes and was shot in San Joaquin Valley, which is just east of the Bay Area in Northern California.
By Brad Wiebe, Jordan Wiebe, Nick Soares.
Stars: Seanna McDonald, Missy Sturges, Lily Vu, Nikki Cordell.
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