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Film Review: Huff (2013)

SYNOPSIS:

When a mother realizes her sleaze bag, bible thumping husband has been abusing her daughters she goes to extremes to ensure their safety. On the run the three girls must manage to stay one step ahead of their maniacal step father, Huff will revenge in his eyes.

REVIEW:

Directed By: Paul Morrell
Starring: Charlie O’Connell, Natasha Alam, Amber Marie Bollinger, Jenna Stone, Elly Stefanko
Inspired by the story The Three Little Pigs.

From the beginning credits variables such as a crisp, clear, high definition cinematography accentuate a big budget type feel to the production. Cameos from such actors as Clint Howard seem to breathe an air of authenticity into the picture. The soundtrack seems a little off but somehow seems to fit in the off the beaten path type locale throughout the film.

The premise of a nursery rhyme deconstructed to facilitate more vivid horror is an intriguing one albeit far from new in Hollywood. Brothers Grimm have composed some of the most terrifying tales when broken down oddly enough recited time and again to each of us as children. Huff is no exception in terms of disturbing content and creates a certain aura of dread among most viewers.

Lead villain Huff as portrayed by Charlie O’Connell for the most part is an effective one even with his asthma and dufus demeanor. His fallacies however, arguably depict a little too much foreshadow in his pending, inevitable demise. It gets a little frustrating from time to time seeing him grapple with his asthma and retrieving his inhaler providing a little too much of a glimpse in what is to become. His unpredictable bouts of rage however will have most audiences cringe within their seats.

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An attractive, young ensemble will resonate among a large demographic. Testosterone fuelled fans will salivate over the presence of Natasha Alam in the role of Laci. Although her character embodies the white trash trailer skank persona she also delivers an undeniable sense of raw sensuality that will quicken the pulse of even the most hardened of critics. Genre fans may also recall her presence in the smash hit franchise True Blood as Yvetta.

Those for an appreciation for survival genre based horror will rejoice in the performance delivered from Amber Marie Bollinger as Brixi. A strong female protagonist that accentuates the heightened conflict makes us second guess the outcome in the final act. Her portrayal is convincing and often haunting of a young lady trapped within an abusive environment. There’s no arguing at her validity in the plot as her character is by far the easiest to empathize with. Her relationship with Gina (Mayra Leal) is a little too vague and isn’t really explored at any great depth. The editing department may have been best advised to cut these scenes all together as her involvement didn’t really impact the overall production aside from adding unnecessary distraction and confusion.

A multi-layered plot will keep most reluctant viewers fixated on exploring the final outcome. A subtext of double-crossing and revenge will appeal to many action based aficionados. We begin to ponder just whose agenda will prevail and at what ultimate cost will betrayal come.

The bible thumping quotes from Huff are eerie as hell and reminiscent of a wayward soul losing his grip between morality and insanity. We witness the wide spectrum of emotion within O’Connell’s face as he grapples with his own evil agenda and doing what has been ingrained in his complex soul.

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Never shy on blood and gore in the kill scenes, director Paul Morrell manages to draw the fine line between dramatic unease and being too over the top. Morrell has directed a wide array of notable releases including the shorts The Texas Chainsaw musical and Tupac is Not Dead prior to this endeavor. The special effects are delivered in convincing fashion with just the right balance of dripping, gross out bludgeoning. It really is no major surprise that Huff was the recipient of the 2012 Best Practical Special Effects at the Louisville Fright Night Film Fest.

The kill scenes by design by and large are innovative and in many cases a tribute and testimony to the original The Three Little Pigs tale.

The final act is a little contrived and disappointing at how open ended it concludes providing opportunity for a possible yet very unnecessary sequel.

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Fans of teen slasher films or survival genre fans may get a kick out it, certainly not a thinking man’s horror but all in all not half bad.

-Two and a half tombstones out of five.

About Dave Gammon

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