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American Weapon

"Vasko took a huge gamble with a story so done-to-death and well-known as the kids-go-into-the-woods-only-to-be-hunted-by-a-serial-killer, routine."

The premise of American Weapon (or is this film titled Blood Shed as I've come across DVD sleeves with both names on them for this film?) is one we're all overly familiar with; a group of twentysomethings decide to spend some time in a cabin in the woods, but are eventually picked off one-by-one in gruesome ways. Yawn. American Weapon begins in a slightly different way than most others, by spoiling things for us and showing who the killer is and the motivations for his actions, which I think was a rather dumb thing to do as part of the appeal is trying to guess who and why the murders are being carried out.

American Weapon
Written & Directed by Cliff Vasko
Cast Amin Joseph, Maria-Elena Laas, Benjamin Mouton
Release Date 1 March 2014
Ed's Grade: D+

We begin several years previously, watching new army recruits being put through their paces by a tough Drill Sergeant, who starts to yell at one soldier in particular as he's not putting enough effort into climbing over a wall. The Sarge is screaming into his face and telling him he's a pussy etc., and a disgrace to the uniform. Shortly after this scene, we see the dejected recruit screaming up at the sky, letting the audience know a serial-killer has just been born, which is one of the lamest bits of writing I've seen in quite some time. You'd expect the Sarge to be relentlessly hounding the recruit over a period of time in order for this to even happen, but, no, apparently one scene is enough to push this dude over-the-edge, thus creating a monster.

First-time writer-director, Cliff Vasko, has tried to make our hapless victims interesting thus allowing us to care about what happens to them, but none of the characters are written in such a way for us to give a damn. There is very little in the way of horror or bloodshed and because we already know the punchline, there really isn't anything to hold our interest.

The actors do a decent enough job considering what they have to work with and some of the poor dialogue the have to utter, like near the end, when the soldier is shouting at one of the women he's captured and tied to a chair. He starts shouting some nonsense about how women need protecting and how they don't care about children in third-world countries. I realise he's supposed to be mentally unstable but that's they way I felt after listening to his speech.

I really didn't find much to like about American Weapon, and feel that Vasko took a huge gamble with a story so done-to-death and well-known as the kids-go-into-the-woods-only-to-be-hunted-by-a-serial-killer, routine. And unless you have something new to add to such a heavily saturated tale, what's the point?

Review by Ed Blackadder, Lead Entertainment Writer

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