STRIPPED is post-feminist horror, following the events surrounding a birthday outing with two brothers and a friend which turns into a horrific fight for survival after they become trapped in a house with a “family” of malevolent women.
Directors – Mark LaFleur and J.M.R. Luna
Starring – Nicole Sienna, Josh Cole, Carson Aune
Ah, Vegas. The city of sin. Of twenty-four hour debauchery. The place where anything goes. What in the world could possibly go wrong in a place like that? A group of friends is about to find out.
Yes, you can add Stripped to the ever growing ranks of found footage films. And why does one of our characters feel the need to record their little adventure? Well, to hear him say it, it’s to make a documentary about the greatest twenty-first birthday trip to Las Vegas in the history of twenty-first birthday — I’d continue but our filmmaker gets rudely interrupted by one of his friends. Be ready for it because it happens a lot. Almost to the point of annoying. Actually, it is annoying.
But I digress. So what is Stripped all about? In short, organ trafficking. Yep, you’ve seen this one before. Innocents lured out to a place with promises too good to be true, only to find themselves unwilling donors to a mad man. In this case a doctor. At least he dresses like one.
Right off the bat we learn that one of our main characters has been found dead after five weeks of intensive searching. So there’s no secret as to the outcome. The only thing we need to know is how it all unfolded. So in true found footage form we instantly get transported back in time and, through the lens of one Cameron Townes, we watch his four friends and their journey to Las Vegas.
For the first half of the film we get to know the group of friends and honestly, this can absolutely make or break a film. Do we in any way relate to these characters? Are we rooting for them? Are we rooting for them to die?
For me, I fell in line with two of them and hoped that somehow they would make it out of this ordeal alive. The others, not so much. The pacing to this part of the film is a little slow. I really wish they would have arrived in Vegas sooner. The character archetypes for this movie don’t require too much depth. Give us what we need to know and let’s get the show rolling. Admittedly, there are some good gems during their drive but also too much exposition.
But of course all of that can be forgiven if the second half rocks. Is it full of blood, danger, suspense? In this case the answer is an unfortunate no. Again, there are decent parts here, just not enough to compensate for the pacing of the first half.
I do have to give a tiny shout out to Joseph Buttler, who played the doctor. Trust me when I say that the role didn’t require much in the way of acting, but I enjoyed the wide-eyed look he gave all the time. Reminded me very much of the host of The Faces Of Death tapes from back in the late seventies, early eighties. I guess there’s just something about bug-eyes from behind a surgical mask. Gave me a small chuckle.
The acting? Not too bad for low budget horror. Blood and gore? Definitely not enough to satisfy the gore hounds out there. This isn’t Hostel. In fact, there wasn’t much blood at all. Kinda odd for an organ harvesting operation. Oh, well.
In the end, Stripped is what it is, and in a world where we have countless options for horror movies, that makes it hard to recommend. As mentioned above, there were a few good scenes but they came too sporadically. Again, blame it on the pacing. With the way social media invades most of our lives, I don’t expect the found footage sub-genre to dry up any time soon. Let’s face it, people love to film themselves doing all kinds of crazy things. But if a group of your friends wants to go to Las Vegas for a wild night of partying, and one of them whips out a camcorder, you’d best turn the offer down.