It's what passes for horror in LA


I was rummaging around in the pantry off the galley, you know, looking for a snack to go with the movie I’m about to review.  After sorting through the cans of green beans and boxes of crackers for a while I came across some old cook books hidden behind a bag of Baked Doritos:   Dining with Titus Adronicus, How to Serve Man, Mrs. Lovett’s Big Book of Pies and The Donner Family Cookbook.  I don’t remember buying those, so I’m a bit worried. Also my evil sidekick, Julian Lizard, has been acting a little strange lately.  Say, you don’t think . . . He’s not planning to . . . Nah!

I’ll just pop in a movie.  That should take my mind far from my suspicions.  Oh yeah!  Necrosis.  That’s the ticket.


It’s the winter of 1846 and all is not well in the Sierra-Nevada mountains.  A group of settlers is caught in a snow storm.  Unable to continue, they settle in for a hard winter in the mountains that ends in cannibalism and murder.  Cannibalism is bad enough, but at least they could cook it, maybe Chinese style.  Sum Yung Guy anyone?   No, they eat it raw.  Bleh.  It’s Suzy, not sushi!

Okay, that’s enough cannibal humor.  We skip to the present before the credits are even over and are quickly given the plot.  Six yuppies are heading up to a secluded cabin in the Sierras for skiing, sex, and drinking.  On the way up they stop to  gas up their SUVs and meet the local color.  It’s the “get to know your characters” segment of the movie.  If a typical horror film takes this part of the movie and sketches out the victims as a quick charcoal sketch, then Necrosis does it, by way of comparison, with a cheap, dull green crayon on a piece of lighter green construction paper.  None of the characters make sense or are well defined but remain just as blank and superficial as the smiles of J Crew models.  I’ve decided that I don’t like them, neither do the locals, except for Seymour (Michael Berryman), who tries to warn our protagonists to avoid the cabin, but is hushed up by his pal Hank.

Later, after getting to the cabin, doing a little snowmobiling and seeing a talking dead woman, our party settles in for drinks and hot tubing.  Spoiled Rich Boy (Robert Michael Ryan), the lead yuppie and owner of the cabin, regales the other yuppies with the story of how he bought the place on the cheap.  It seems that the place has been cursed since the Donner party foundered there during a winter storm, lapsing into cannibalism and murder.  Their spirits still, according to the locals, haunt the place.   The exposition was unneeded.   We saw what happened at the beginning of the movie.   On the other hand, I’m glad they did this because it gave the filmmakers an excuse to show more Donner gore and violence, which is infinitely more entertaining than any other topic of conversation they could be having, except for possibly the weather.  It’s about to snow by the boatload and these yuppies better get comfortable, because they’re going nowhere.

Funny Yuppie Guy (James Kyson-Lee) has been singled out by the dark spirits of the mountain as the weakest link.  He begins having visions of the Donner murders while  roaming around the cabin.  Yuppie Tiffany (Tiffany) starts having bloody, violent nightmares that are nearly as frightening as her career arc.

If you’re expecting The Haunting of Hill Cabin, look elsewhere.  Necrosis is not a subtle ghost story that slowly builds to a terrifying conclusion like The Haunting or The Shining or even The Skeleton Key.  No, it has all the subtlety of a beating about the face with a rotten mackerel and like a Brazilian bikini, it leaves nothing to the imagination.  On the flip side, the gore and walking corpse effects are good. If you are going to show horrible things, the horrible things had better work. The special effects crew doesn’t let us down.

One technical defect of the film is the sound.  There are several points in this movie where it sounds like it was recorded with the mic on my mom’s twenty-year-old VHS camcorder.  Okay, maybe that’s a little hyperbole on my part, but nevertheless, the sound has a bit of echo and flatness in some key dialogue scenes.  It wasn’t so bad that I couldn’t make out what was being said, but it was enough to be distracting.

The acting was uninspired, but to be fair, none of the actors got any help from the dialogue.  Casting Tiffany in this movie was a mistake.  She’s a terrible actress.  Most of the rest of the cast is made up of bit part television actors except for James Kyson-Lee and  George Stults who were regulars on television’s Heroes and 7th Heaven respectively, both of which  I’ve never seen.  Nobody turns in an especially good performance.

Using the history of the Donner party as a launching pad for a story about a lonely mountain plagued with evil spirits is a good idea.  It’s too bad that writers, Robert Michael Ryan and Jason Robert Stephens, couldn’t build a better story on that foundation.  There are gaping plot holes (and huge historical errors), boring dialogue and some of the more interesting elements are left unexplored such as whether or not the evil started with the Donner killings or where the Donner killing merely the first known deaths sparked by the evil of the mountain.  There are other holes, but they are a little spoilery, so I’ll leave off where I am.

It sounds like I hate this movie, doesn’t it?  I don’t hate it so much as I don’t really like it.  It was mildly entertaining but I’ll probably never watch it again.  If you are sick of zombies and want to see something cheesy that you don’t have to think about, you could do worse than Necrosis.

James Kyson-Lee
George Stults
Michael Berryman

Robert Michael Ryan
Jason Robert Stephens

Jason Robert Stephens

One and a half out of five Vincents

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