New Horror Releases: City Of Dead Men (2016) – Reviewed

Recently released on VOD is City of Dead Men, which ends up being the ultimate example of when a promotional trailer and poster misrepresent what a film is in order to gain a specific audience. In this case, what appears to be a straight paranormal or ghost story turns out to be more of a mixture of Point Break, The Wicker Man, extreme sports, and wild youths. The combination simply doesn’t work in this situation and any portion of scares and terror were pretty much milked out in the promotional material.
The story involves an American slumming in Columbia who ends up meeting and living with a group of delinquents in an abandoned psychiatric hospital, which has a disturbing past. More time is spent on partying, extreme sports, and this being an unruly group of misfits or gang then the paranormal aspect, making this more of a youth gang movie then a ghost story. When it comes to the paranormal aspect of the narrative, it is very cookie cutter and utterly predictable. What makes it even worse is the narration that is used in order to further explain the situation, which treats the audience like they are a bunch of toddlers who need their hands held through the events that are taking place.
The acting from the two main characters was decent for the material that they were provided with. Diego Boneta (Scream Queens) portrays the American and he goes through a series of emotions as his character changes and reacts to certain events. Jackson Rathbone (Twilight) plays the brooding leader of the band of misfits, channeling his inner Bam Margera. Seriously, he looked and dressed just like Margera. The other main character was played by Maria Mesa, who came off as somewhat uninspiring.
The star of this picture ended up being the overall look, providing at least the appearance of excellent production values. It was shot in Columbia, so there are some great large scale overhead shots of the city and other scenic shots. The colors used were absolutely superb. There were many scenes that featured neon lighting set in dark locations, giving the viewer some lovely looking green and red shadows on the actors. There were a series of shaking and spinning camera effects employed during the paranormal sequences that seemed overplayed. I question if there would have been a better creative choice in replace of those, or simply toned down a bit.
See, at least it looks good at times

The technical aspects of the filmmaking for the most part were done well by the director and the rest of the crew. Given a better script, this director has shown the potential to improve on his first feature length motion picture. That being said, this one should probably be avoided unless you’re looking to watch some youths party in an abandoned building.

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