High school for some can really be a drag. All across America schools have traditions and rivalries that for some can be more than a young mind can handle. What if one of those traditions had nothing to with a cross town foe but an air of death that surrounds your school. For the characters in THE CURSE OF DOWNERS GROVE that scenario is all too real. In the Derick Martini mystery horror we find a high school in the middle of Illinois Suburbia where for the past 13 years a senior has died tragically before graduation day. There is no masked killer calling the students asking them what their favorite horror film is, it’s just good old fashion unexplainable death.
Chrissie (Bella Heathcote) has been having some crazy dreams as of late which all seem to center around a few people in her circle. She is looking forward to enjoying her senior year with her best friend Tracy (Penelope Mitchell) and younger brother (Martin Spanjers). A trip out of town for her mother and weird run in with some jocks from another town jumpstart a set of events that coincide with the countdown to graduation day. While all this is going on in her world the question in the community still beckons. Who will be the one? Which senior will die before graduation day. What THE CURSE OF DOWNERS GROVE gets right is providing a dreary look to what should be a pleasant community. There is a dark and gritty tone felt throughout the film that sets up the mood for a fan of a modern teenage slasher. What will lose the audience is the over the top nature of the film that really tries to do more than what is needed to make this successful. Even though this is a mystery a lack of a true killer will have you searching for a purpose in this film instead of wondering what’s next. Also the execution of the premise felt outdated as if this film was trying to provide a greaser vs jocks approach that belonged in another time period. If this film was set in the 50’s it would have hit on more levels and provided the viewer with more reasons why the story went in the direction it did.
Two of the shining characters in the film are the brother and her friend Stacy. Their obscure relationship is almost comical as they tend to stay away from the pack until needed. At times you wonder if they even attend school as most of the interaction they have in the film deal with them being stoned hanging out at the house. For two people integral to THE CURSE OF DOWNERS GROVE it just felt weird and out of place. DOWNERS moves at a good pace and is entertaining enough to keep you invested in the film it just kind of falls flat when you get to the final outcome. There is so much going on here that it almost seems as if there is two films being shown. One film is an almost mystical dealing with the curse while the other falls more into the revenge rape genre. That will be difficult for fans to digest as they try and piece THE CURSE OF DOWNERS GROVE together. That being said in a world where youngsters tend to watch their phones as much as the movie in front of them it won’t be too much of a deterrent. With a few tweaks this film could have resonated a bit more but now just leaves you perplexed.
THE CURSE OF DOWNERS GROVE is now available on demand and will be on DVD and Blu ray September 1st. It is directed by Derick Martini and stars Bella Heathcote, Lucas Till, Penelope Mitchell, Tom Arnold and Kevin Zegers. It is being released courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment.