A group of unlucky reality show contestants must survive the night in a haunted jail.
Today I went to see “Captain America: First Avenger”, which is now my second favorite super hero movie next to “Spiderman 2”. It was a really great film that does EVERYTHING right. When I returned from the theater I came home and jumped directly into After Dark’s “The Task”. A movie that begins to do everything right, then just begins to deteriorate into something that was a bit of a mess and unsatisfying. I will try not to be overly critical since I was still on a “C.A.” high, but I’m not going to make any promises, except that I will give you an honest opinion. If you want to hear it, that is.
“The Task” opens with Dixon (Texas Battle “Final Destination 3”) minding his own business when he is seemingly abducted and thrown into a van. There are others and they are all frightened. Eventually the van comes to a stop and the victims are led outside, handcuffed together, with masks pulled over their faces. When our abductor emerges, he removes his own mask, then we learn that he is Taylor (Adam Rayner TV’s “Hawthorne”) an employee of a new reality show called “The Task”. A show where the contestants must complete a series of tasks within the confines of an abandoned prison and the winner emerges richer. Dixon, along with Randall (Marc Pickering), Shoe (Ashley Mulheron), Toni (Amara Karan), Stanton (Tom Payne), and Angel (Antonia Campbell-Hughes) all are competing in the show. It isn’t as easy as it sounds and the prison was also said to be haunted. Once inside, they begin their tasks and nothing is as it seems. They will have to work together as a team in order to win the show and the $20,000. If the legends are real, then they will be lucky to escape with their lives.
“The Task” works best during the first 40min or so. This is when we first meet our contestants who are an interesting bunch, except for the fact that they are mostly stereotypes that could have been fleshed out into strong characters, just never really were. The actors all turn in good performances and we buy in to them a bit more. I loved the setup and there are some pretty suspenseful scenes as well. Each task a contestant has to complete, plays to their fears that they revealed in their interviews when first auditioning for the show. I loved that idea and also enjoyed how several different scenes play out through multiple cameras at once on the screen.
After setting up some truly intense scenes and giving us a villain that’s frightening, things begin to fall apart in the second half. The film hits a high point when people begin to find themselves trapped or getting killed by what appears to be the long thought dead prison warden who tortured, raped, and forced inmates to eat their own babies. Now that is one hardcore dude!! After all this great stuff, I hate to say that everything just begins to disintegrate from here on in. Mainly with plot devices that I really don’t like and one of the worst endings I have seen in quite a while. Another major annoyance for me is when the camera pans, we hear what is supposed to be the sound of a security camera moving around. I know it was supposed to add to the reality of it but DAMN, it was annoying.
“The Task” is a movie worth watching. There are some pretty successful moments and I enjoyed the performances by the actors. What kept me from giving this film a really good review was how ill-conceived and rushed the end felt to me. If a little more time could have been spent constructing the conclusion, then maybe this could have ended up being a bit more memorable than it ends up being. If you want to see a well-made reality show like horror film, you’re better off watching “My Little Eye” or “The Running Man”.
The Task (2010)