30th Mar2021

‘Stay Out of the F**king Attic’ Review (Shudder)

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Ryan Francis, Morgan Alexandria, Bryce Fernelius, Michael Flynn, Brynne Hurlbutt, Avery Pizzuto, Garrett McClellan | Written and Directed by Jerren Lauder

A diverse group of ex-cons-turned-movers; Schillinger (Ryan Francis), Imani (Morgan Alexandria) and Carlos (Bryce Fernelius); are convinced by their creepy client, Vern (Michael Flynn), to pull an all-nighter for a generous pay bump. As the night progresses and rooms are cleared, they slowly uncover the horrors that exist inside his old Victorian mansion, including boobytraps, human experimentation, Nazi monsters and more…

Nazis. Never really gone away have they? Literally and figuratively. Genre films have often mined that particularly nasty brand of human being for horrific effect – from the evils of Nazi zombies in films like JJ Abrams’ Overlord, or more low-budget fare such as Dead Snow and the Outpost franchise; to the sinister human experimentation of The Boys From Brazil. In Stay Out of the F**king Attic we get all that and more, as writer/director Jerren Lauder taps the same kind of horror that we saw in films like The Collector and Saw – booby traps and all – and combines it with the terror of Fulci’s Dr Freudstein and the Nazi experimentation of Josef Mengele… Yep, Lauder goes there.

Whilst many applaud Shudder for picking up festival fare, the kind of elevated horror that appeals to none-horror fans, I applaud them for picking up Stay Out of the F**king Attic more – a film with no aspirations to being anything other than terrifying. A film that, honestly, feels out of time somewhat. There are aspects to the film that feel very much like a product of the much-derided late 90s / early 2000s period in horror that came post-Scream, when slashers made a comeback and originality went out the window. At the same time you have to applaud Jerren Lauder too.In today’s “woke” climate using a real-life notorious Nazi as the base for your movie is a BOLD move. Seriously bold. After all, snowflakes everywhere will decry use of a real-life genocidal killer as “disrespectful to the victims of the holocaust.”

I get that. However good horror is good horror, no matter the subject matter.

Using Mengele as your villain gives you instant name-recognition. We all know how evil the man was, and given advances in technology we can only imagine what type of monstrous atrocities he would commit today. Which makes him here all the more terrifying… as does Michael Flynn’s excellent performance which harkens back to the aformentioned The Boys From Brazil in its sheer creepiness. But a villain is, no matter the name, only as good as his protagonists; and the trio of ex-cons here are superb, well-rounded characters: Schillinger is a man looking to atone for his past sins, Imani is trying to overcome the stigma of not only being an ex-con but also a black woman who’s an ex-con – a stereotype she works hard to overcome by doing just that, working hard; meanwhile newcomer to the team Carlos is a father looking to make money to support his family the right way and not through crime any more. We’re only introduced to the three briefly but the dynamic between the characters is there from the beginning and the conversation thay have, bonding over their lunch break, is a brilliant way to not only reveal their motivations but also help the audience empathise with what are, typically, unsympathetic criminal types.

In the end, Stay Out of the F**king Attic is essentially a home invasion movie in reverse, with the invaders invited into the home of a madman who wants to harm THEM… and for the most part it works. There’s a few stumbling blocks along the way – the addition of two of Mengele’s surviving victims needing to be rescued wasn’t really needed and adds nothing to the overall plot – but the central story of three convicts literally fighting to get out the situation they’re in (a huge mataphor if ever there was one) is a good one. And that post-credits scene? A superb way to end the movie and set-up an ongoing franchise I personally would LOVE to see!

****½  4.5/5

Stay Out of the F**king Attic is available to watch on Shudder now.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.