★ out of ★★★★★
Sometimes a twist ending is just annoying.
Oh, my gosh! So, these young women were enjoying some time at this lakeside cabin, right? They were, like, in the house, you know? And then! Guess what happened! Oh, jeez, you’ll never guess. Okay, I’ll just tell you. Are you ready? Some other people, you know, who didn’t even know the women, right? And, no, it wasn’t like the landlord or anything. These were total strangers, you know? Well… they came in the house! I was like, “Whaaaaaaat?? They don’t even live there?!” but there they were! Inside the house. OMG, it was so crazy.
Ah, the home invasion movie. The laziest of all horror sub-genres. Are the home invaders monsters? Are they unkillable supernatural murderers? Robots? No? So, they’re just a bunch of guys who broke into a house? I see. Might as well make a movie about getting into a car accident or eating tainted shellfish down at the Bonnie Gull Seafood Shack*. Nobody likes it when those things happen either.
Alright, how about I stop ranting and start reviewing.
Writer/director Giorgio Serafini’s The Executioners tells a very thin story about four young women who drive out to a nice, lakeside house for a weekend getaway. The sun is shining and the house looks lovely as the women arrive, but right away we can tell something’s wrong — not as part of the story, but with the movie itself. While the production values are pretty high, problems with the film’s pacing begin to show right from the start. The opening scene flows along nicely until our four characters gaze out over the lake for the first time. For a long time. Did they forget the camera was running? C’mon, people, we’re burning daylight!
Unfortunately, that’s only the first sign that The Executioners suffers from the far too common ailment, Just A Bit Too Long Disease. The gaze out over the lake? Just a bit too long. The painfully contrived hey-look-we’re-friends-having-a-nice-weekend intro? Just a bit too long. The protagonist’s week-long sneak from one side of the basement to the other? You get the idea. With as much action as they were trying to show, the editing should have been a lot tighter. Using pacing to build up tension is one thing. It’s something else entirely when viewers can use certain scenes to go refill their drinks without missing anything.
Naturally, you can’t have a home invasion movie without a home invasion. This time, our home invasion is provided by Mr. Black (Anthony Belevtsov; Tripple 9 (2016)) and his colorful crüe. Mr. Black, Mr. Blue, and Mr. Red — who apparently each dunked their head in a can of paint to match their name — break in and begin terrorizing the ladies. And, of course, since this movie also has a revenge angle to it, our home invaders had to cross The Line. The line that, when crossed, turns our protagonists into blood-thirsty seekers of vengeance. If the protagonists are male, it seems like that line can be almost anything: killing the guy’s dog, owing the guy money, sending the guy to prison, etc. If the protagonists are female, that line is nearly always rape. So, here’s where The Executioners takes a turn for the exploitative. Likely, Serafini was aiming for “shocking”, but what he really landed on was “tacky”.
After that, the rest of the film falls apart at a steady pace. Jemma Dallender (I Spit on Your Grave 2 (2013)) and Natalie Burn (Mechanic: Resurrection (2016), The Expendables 3 (2014)) do a decent job as two of the weekend women, but they can’t carry the whole thing by themselves. Director Giorgio even throws in a “twist” at the end hoping to salvage something from the wreckage, but it’s not so much a twist as it is the cinematic equivalent of telling someone their shoes are untied when they’re not.
You don’t get a gasp of surprise or jaw-dropping shock from that.
You just get irritation and an eye roll.
* For the record, I have never gotten tainted shellfish at the Bonnie Gull Seafood Shack. I’m sure it’s all very delicious.