21st May2021

‘Death Rink’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Amanda Courtney, Caedmon Holland, Alan Humphrey, Kim Johnson, Katheryn McCune, Robert Posey, Meg Smith, Ian Troy | Written and Directed by Daniel Zubiate

Described as Roller Boogie meets Friday the 13th, Death Rink is a wild new skating slasher that sees the night staff of roller rink stalked and killed by a mysterious figure who they believe may be the spirit of a teenager who was accidentally killed there years ago…

Originally titled Skateway Massacre, Death Rink sits in a very interesting pantheon – it feels like its been inspired by both David A. Prior’s Aerobicide (a personal fave) and Ryan Nicholson’s Gutterballs. Filmed on a similar low budget to both but with less of the OTT gore or uber-violence of either. Death Rink also follows the tradition of many an 80s slasher cash-in, insomuch as it spends more time following its cast talking to each other than it does on having them killed; and the talk here is very much of the inconsequential variety – even mentioning the very fact that a kid died at the skate rink (something that will come back to haunt these folks) in a throwaway line!

Most of this films 75-minute running time is spent following the staff around the roller rink as they move from room to room, chatting sh*t and not really doing the work that you’d expect them to be doing after hours – cleaning, cashing up, etc. The nearest thing to work this lot do is sweep the toilets. Otherwise its beer drinking and questioning the manager about the rinks history… Oh and skating in a ridiculous, but on the nose, 80s-style skating montage! The film keeps coming back to the rinks history though, as if the movie is trying to tell the audience something, eeking out the grim history of the roller rink before unleashing the films karma-like slasher movie revenge.

Speaking of slasher movies, after the security guard is knocked out early doors, it’s not until 45 minutes into Death Rink that there’s actually any death. It’s also ironic that the characters in the film wish people dead more often than people die in the film! I jest of course, however when Death Rink does get into the grisly stuff there’s some decent effects work – including a very bloody death by pizza cutter, and innovative use of a traffic cone!

There are signs throughout Death Rink that writer and director Daniel Zubiate is truly paying homage to the slasher movies of the 80s; including the use of synthesisers in a string fashion, mimicking that classic “stabbing” sound heard on loads of 80s horrors; and a BRILLIANT denouement that recalls the original Sleepaway Camp... and no I’m not talking about the reveal about Angela but the freeze-frame ending that made Sleepaway Camp‘s climax so impactful. It’s like Death Rink was made by a slasher movie fan for slasher movie fans and that’s something I can truly appreciate.

Obviously filmed on a super-low budget, Death Rink is a fantastic modern-day nod to the slasher genre – in particular the myriad of similarly low-budget films of the 80s that cashed in on the big-name slasher franchise successes, bypassing cinemas and finding their audience on home video. Hopefully Death Rink finds its own genre-loving audience on VOD… I know I’m definitely a fan!

***½  3.5/5

Death Rink is out now on digital from Wild Eye Releasing.

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