The Horror Zine Review
A Snout Productions Film
|Director: Caleb Straus
Actors: Dorell Anthony, Stacia Stroder, Shayla Bagir
Studio: Snout Productions
Release Date: November 19, 2011
Run Time: 1:10
A Film by Caleb Straus
Review by C. Dennis Moore
Anyone who doesn’t love slasher flicks raise your hand.
Okay, now all of you with your hands up, get out. I happen to love slasher flicks, which is why I enjoyed Homecoming II.
Writer Dorell Anthony and director Caleb Straus have recently released their latest bid in the realm of the slasher flicks with Homecoming II, which is a sequel to the original Homecoming—obviously. I’ve never seen the first but it isn’t necessary, because while playing off the original, they manage to pull off a sequel that can stand alone on its own storyline.
Homecoming II picks up a year after the events of the first movie which, from what I gathered through this movie’s expository dialogue, went something like this: a girl named Blaire went crazy and killed half the people in her senior class. One of the survivors of that assault, Deanna, is trying to get on with her life in a new college with a new friend whom she’s bringing home the next day for a memorial service being held for the victims of the previous movie’s attacks. Deanna is having trouble adjusting because she’s been having this feeling that Blaire, the killer, is still alive and has returned to their small town.
The memorial service is held and almost immediately afterwards, bodies start to pile up again as one by one the survivors are picked off.
What Straus and Anthony have done here is pretty much by the numbers, even predictable at times, but their love of the form comes through so loud and clear that every shot pays homage to all the great and not so great slasher flicks that came before.
Their killer, Blaire, is designed in such a simplistic way it’s almost ridiculous how easy it looks—yet it totally works. Even the fact that the mask the killer wears is a cliché, they make it work so incredibly well.
The plot has red herrings galore, some more obvious than others, and the twists and turns all culminate in one very cool rewind sequence, but at its heart Homecoming II is a movie we’ve all seen a hundred times before. But dammit if it still doesn’t feel fresh and new.
This is partly due to their obvious love of the form, and partly the energy they put into it. Their cast may not be the best actors in the world, but what they lack in emotion they make up for in presence. And they have tons of it.
Stacia Stroder’s Deanna never uttered one line of dialogue I believed, but she filled the screen with such energy she made up for it in spades. The same with most of the other actors as well.
One exception is Myles Hamm’s portrayal of Richard. Hamm is right, this dude was the epitome of over-acting. At first he was just one of those annoying little emo wannabe punks with the stupid forward-swept hairdo I despise, but at the end during his “big” scene...wow.
And then that killer. SO simple, but so damn effective. It’s the kind of thing I wish I’d thought of.
Homecoming II is shot on video, and at times the camera is a bit shakier than it should have been, especially during a few of the opening dream sequence shots, but the quality of this film is leagues above many other low budget movies. The picture is crystal clear and the sound levels solid throughout.
Slasher films—really GOOD slasher films—feel like a dying breed, but I love ’em. If there was a series about a wine bottle-opener murderer I’d watch the whole thing. I just can’t help myself. Nor do I want to.
I’m not going to pretend Homecoming II is a perfect movie; like all films, it has its share of flaws. But I will lay all of those at the foot of the budget because I’m sure with more money they could have hired better actors. But would they have been as fun to watch? Probably not.
So in the end, even though I went warily into Homecoming II, I came out the other end of its 74 minute run-time very pleased and eager for the next sequel. Not only that, I hope it’s just as cheesy, because anything else just wouldn’t be Homecoming.
Buy the DVD HERE.
About the Filmmaker
Caleb Straus is a musician/composer, producer and multimedia artist in Austin, TX. He’s been acting for the stage since he was 17, and for the camera since his mid-twenties. He has two theatre degrees: a bachelors in performance and design and a masters in directing, with a cognate in playwriting.
His musical career began with Emzy Enzy in the mid nineties, for which he is the primary vocalist. After several solo experiments that never saw the light of day, including Bloody Mary, and Born, he finally released his first solo outing in 2008, entitled Wurmhole, which he affectionately refers to as “toxic jazz”. He is also the mastermind behind Disgruntled Embryo, and co-writes the music for Plus from the It's Over films, providing the singing voice for the character of Zane Enzo.
Caleb scores his films as well, which include "It's Over," "The Storybook," and "Homecoming II". He has also recently directed a pre-production teaser trailer for the film "Squatch," by Looknow Productions.
His directing for the stage includes Sam Shepherd's "Buried and Child," and Charles Mee's "Big Love," both definitely extreme pieces, but he's ventured heavily into children's theatre as well.
His stage performances include the title/lead roles in Macbeth, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and The Crucible, as well as roles in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Musical Comedy Murders of 1940, Present Laughter, and Noises Off among others. In addition to co-creating the “It’s Over” mythology, he performs the role of Lucifer in all three films.
His latest project is the film, "Homecoming II," which he directed and provided the score for. The soundtrack is available as a free download and includes the single "Coming Home" for which Snout Productions just released a video that was shot, directed and edited by Errich Petersen, the film's DP.
See the entire crew of "Homecoming II" HERE
About the Reviewer
C. Dennis Moore
C. Dennis Moore lives in St. Joseph, Missouri. He’s been writing just about forever with over sixty stories and novellas published, plus a collection of his short stories called Terrible Thrills. Recent and upcoming publications include the Vile Things anthology from Comet Press and his novella Epoch Winter will be published by Drollerie Press.