All Girls Weekend, released by Uncork’d Entertainment, is the latest film for the upcoming writer and director Lou Simon known for Agoraphobia (2015) and HazMat (2013), supported by her production company White Lotus Movies, with a film focused more on an environmental horror than a slasher genre, as opposed to the poster artwork. The movie leans more to the vein of The Descent (2005) and The Blair Witch Project (1999), but the cursed woods fought back against the willful pollution and rampant industry poisons, which harmed it. An interesting trivial note, aside from the all-woman cast, the only men present appear in a photo in the cabin, which were part of the crew.
A group of girlfriends from high school who get together many years later for a reunion, Daniela (Katie Carpenter) meets her friends Gem (Gema Calero), Stephanie (Karishma Lakhani), Nancy (Jamie Bernadette) and the stranger to the group Annie (Sharron Calvin) yet Dani, appears a tad distracted. They, the women, seem to have deep-rooted anger with each another, which presents confusion as suggested by the tone all as good friends. There is a very slow build up to the action providing an excessive amount of time for all the personalities shown to the audience allowing one to choose whom to root for their survival. After an excursion to the zip line, and a brief reading of a pamphlet allowing the camera to foreshadow the word ‘curse’ though nothing mentioned and spoken about it, leaving everyone to puzzle over the situation, however Dani reveals it all soon enough. Quickly one notices the tale set in late fall, early winter, they take a detour upon Dani’s insistence, instead of lunch, everyone else agrees, herein the story starts to sluggishly trudge along with excessive dialogue. The reason for their lengthy hike to show her friends a great scenic viewpoint, but other reasoning drives them to continue onward regardless of the elements. Soon after finding the idyllic place, they become lost, and the distrust erupts, but sadly not as passionately as one would hope for, especially lacking all the proper gear and supplies. When Annie stumbles and a branch stabs through both sides of her leg, the women don’t seem to engage in a concern over the situation and soon she struggles to breathe, in this moment the bickering starts along with mocking. Later in a cabin (in the woods) the dialogue and actions start to mismatch their dire position, and even one the ladies’ ventures outside to have another cigarette, it all seems as if the women have their own agendas. The gore factor lacks in the movie, some frostbite, and tries to entice a supernatural feel, but it appears more grounded, instead of exploding with anger for those trespassing across its sacred grounds. Even a bear encounter, appears disjointed and fails to heighten the scare factor, leaving one confuse to the curse factors, that one aspects similar to those in Grave Halloween (2013) or even The Evil Dead (1981), but victims killed by a pile of leaves, doesn’t exactly help things along. The dramatic moments appear by the last 20-minutes, yet a tad forced, and adding a twist, which actually explains the entire story. One could only hope if a sequel gets a green light, then an armed rescue party enters the forest to bring a new level of bloodshed. However, a brief understanding that the woods seeks women, as they grant the birth of a new cycle, and correlating it too the essence of Mother Nature.
In the beginning, the strangest artwork appears on the walls, movie posters of Lou’s films including All Girls Weekend, which shows the original version of a woman carrying a saw and a head wearing cutoffs and a mid-riff tee, of which none it appears in the film. In addition, the newer poster sports a different woman, and from behind, yet again no correlations to the film, so the viewer must not allow that imagine influencing them, and rather relying on the story itself.
The story for the movie, works well, and shows future stars of the genre, especially Jamie Bernadette leading the charge, as she already has 38-horror films, and eight of them in the announced category, her performance excels nicely in the movie. Individually all the characters fleshed out ideally, but the combination falters leaving a lackluster bonding, instead of an old bond between friends, friction bristles often, and stresses the plot, leading to a predictable pattern. The effects work very well, but the horror itself appears more implied than actual on the screen. When one creates a woodland horror story, and the demonic forces centered more on the nature itself, than the animal kingdom, one hopes for killings that are more gruesome.
This film is not for the horror fans that seeking a splatter-fest of nature rebellion against society, nor is this film a slasher, again the posters mislead, a bait and switch, all resulting in a less than enthralling tale. While the movie generates comparisons to The Descent, it does not achieve that level, feels similar in tone to Most Likely to Die (2015), and more significantly fits a television horror film.
This review originally posted in November 2016 on the Rogue Cinema site with a view a count of 1,617.
IMDb Rating: 4.6/10
Baron’s Rating: 4.5/10