17th Jul2011

‘The Task’ DVD Review (After Dark Originals)

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Texas Battle, Alexandra Staden, Adam Raynor, Victor McGuire | Written by Kenny Yakkel | Directed by Alex Orwell

Remember the remake of House on Haunted Hill and its sequel the truly horrible Return to the House on Haunted Hill? It’s a well worked out structure for a movie and it’ll work again right? That seems to be the concept of The Task.

Six young students are kidnapped off the streets and dumped outside of an abandoned prison where they are reminded that they all applied to be in a new reality show. Congratulating them the makers then proceed lock them in the prison telling them that they will have to all do tasks to escape and be the victor of the show. The twist of course for them is the prison is said to be haunted by a warden who sadistically used to torture his inmates and took more than a casual enjoyment in the executions he was able to perform. There are also legends of his treatment of the female prisoners true who he would rape and force them into having his children; it is even said he forced them to eat them. This makes him not a very nice ghost of course.

Using the reality show style format as a way to split up the group they are then systematically killed off one by one or trapped in various places where the warden can keep an eye on them. This of course is where the twist is. Can the participants in the show survive and make it out alive and while the makers of the show look on and wonder who the strange figure is that keeps on appearing on the cameras within the prison, just how much do they know about what is going on? You can just smell other twists in there can’t you? I’ll confirm it, there are twists a-plenty.

The main problem I have with The Task is there appears to be many missed chances where a lot of the scenes just fall short of the mark. The ghostly warden is probably the most successful of the characters because he has no lines to say, he just walks around in the shadows and glares at the contestants much like the crazed doctor in House on Haunted Hill. The rest of the characters are fairly bland and come across as cannon fodder for the horror scenes that just don’t have that much of a good pay off. The movie spends more time in creating back stories for the tasks themselves rather than going for the gore, which is a disappointment. I will say though that the back stories themselves are interesting and this is why the failures make it all the more disappointing, if you set the scene up so well at least give us the satisfying pay off.

The Task is the type of movie where you will watch it once then leave it on your shelf probably not watching it for a long time after. It does have its moments that are atmospheric and effective but in the end it’s more of a disappointment than an enjoyable horror movie. Maybe if more time had been taken in the tasks themselves and the ending handled better, this may have been a more enjoyable movie; a sad case of all talk and no action on this one.


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