09th Apr2015

‘The Culling’ Review

by Joel Harley

Stars: Jeremy Sumpter, Elizabeth Di Prinzio, Brett Davern, Chris Coy, Linsey Godfrey, Virginia Williams, Johnathon Schaech, Harley Graham, Jennifer Bowman | Written and Directed by Rustam Branaman

the-culling-dvd

After finding a little girl lost, a gang of college students on an extra-curricular roadtrip travel to the spooky old farmhouse near where she lives. After a friendly steak supper, there they are beset by paranormal forces, fighting off dark entities which threaten to consume the lot of them. Which makes a change from a psychopath and a chainsaw – the sort of thing one generally gets, hanging around in gloomy farmhouses in the middle of nowhere.

Rustam ‘briefly in Iron Man 3‘ Branaman’s second directorial feature, The Culling,  opens in an entertaining enough manner (post chase sequence, in an odd, semi-cheesy YouTube collage sort of way) but quickly settles down into a familiar low-budget backwoods horror funk. By going with supernatural terrors instead of pissed-off hillbillies, The Culling has a slightly different flavour than most, but it’s still far from original. Much of its cliché lies in the characters – a collection of college archetypes all too eager to spend their time shouting insults at each other and embarrassing with pop-culture references that are already beginning to date (sorry, Bieber) but it’s a feeling which permeates throughout the rest of the movie.

The pretty young cast and dark but uninspired visuals are indicative of a straight-to-DVD horror film heaped in cliché, while there’s a marked reluctance to let the monsters do their thing, instead spending an inordinate amount of time with the whining youths and build-up. That does get us a pretty good haunted dolls sequence, but more impatient viewers will be left wishing the film would just get on with it. “We’re missing the Chilli Peppers for this,” one of the kids grumps; a feeling which will be shared by those who would rather watch something more original and less obviously low-budget.

Deftly directed by the obviously horror-savvy Branaman, The Culling has moments of flair and little Harley Graham (playing 7-year-old Lucy) is one to watch out for, but the rest is as by-the-numbers as low-budget spook horror tends to get, packing in only a few decent scares among the chaff. Horror fans can do far worse than The Culling, but there’s much better out there too.

*** 3/5

The Culling is out now on DVD and VOD from Signature Entertainment.

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