It is always interesting to reflect back to see a director’s first movie, knowing where they have transcended, and that man is Ti West with respect to his extremely low-budget B-movie, presenting his horror knowledge for the fans. This film honestly doesn’t contain all the thrills, and chills, that one expects in the horror genre, but it’s here where one sees the initial strength he has in his directorial debut. West also serves as screenwriter, which normally he does with his projects, and this first at bat, truly goes batty quite nicely as he evokes a bit of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds . However, one can’t overlook the short running time of 80-minutes this is slightly incorrect as the film contains a bookend storyline and intermission, which all resembles a late-night television hosting show found on public broadcasting networks or on YouTube.
We are introduced to an elderly couple May (Barbara Wilhide) and her husband Elvin (Richard Little), leaving to visit relatives but Elvin makes the awful venture to make sure the barn (same one from Marnie ) is locked up. This couple finds unwanted visitors on the property, and very unhappy to leave to coop. The Roost simply puts the trusted method of having friends on their journey to a wedding on Halloween (why, it doesn’t matter) after an accident they find themselves stranded and head off in search of help in the night, aided by some flashlights. They venture in the eerie darkness siblings Elliot (Will Horneff (Ghost in the Machine )) and Allison (Vanessa Horneff) led their group to that same farmhouse. This also finds itself as part of a late-night program in black and white hosted by the talented Tom Noonan, known for his role in Manhunter  among many others. Back to the movie, the group of course split up, finding a police officer, more fodder to the small body count, all done in by infected bats who zombified their victims. Minimal and bloody as they come though the makeup work on Officer Mitchell (John Speredakos (The Mind’s Eye )) close up does look nice under the lights with the entire film fitting a very quick production and a bit of campy fun added into the mix.
West likely knew his actual script fell a little short of a full movie, hence the creation of television host aspect, which works strangely nice; it of course definitely helps the movie achieve a positive runtime, however not without a problem. That comes from an odd intermission, and then uses the movie to reverse course, by literally backing the film up and choosing a different path away with a soul touching moment, it feels like a book where you choose the various possible conclusions. In addition, one can observe and compared to his later works, this one doesn’t contain much character development, leaving them extremely thin and cardboard flimsy, and hard to really invest the energy in caring about them. The speed of the film has a few slower pace moments, but the cast does its best to fit themselves into the roles and make for the best results, as it all shows the near zero funds for the flick. However, one very good aspect, knowing your limitations as both a filmmaker and budget scale, use what you got to the fullest, the location of the barn, darkened areas, creaks, low lights, and Bernard Herrmann’s legendary strings to provide frenzied sound like that of fingernails on chalkboard.
The Roost made it to point of a successful distribution with a DVD release, and thanks to the production from Glass Eye Pix, which is owned by filmmaker Larry Fessenden, who also starred in the film as the tow truck driver. This film presents a nice introduction to Ti West who later directed among other horror movies, The House of the Devil  (also from Fessenden’s company) showing him as a rising talent in the horror genre. While the film contains minimal usage of gore, and very few scares, it does provide some shrieks for those that suffer from chiroptophobia, for them avoid the wing bats, and stick to the ding bats of lesser quality horror flicks.
- A Nightmare Unparalleled in the History of Human Imagination
- ..If They Bite You…Kill Yourself!
IMDb Rating: 4.9/10
Baron’s Rating: 5.0/10