New Horror Releases - Bad Apples (2018) - Reviewed

Within seconds of its disturbing opening scene, Bryan Coyne's Bad Apples announces itself as a lovingly crafted homage to the master, John Carpenter.  Substituting the menacing Shape with a pair of murderous teenage girls and featuring a synth laced score, this is a charming addition to the slasher/home invasion genre that uses its meager budget in creative and unexpected ways.  

A new teacher and her physician husband find themselves under siege on Halloween night by homicidal, mask wearing twins.  Ambiance is the key to Coyne's screenplay.  The story is fairly straightforward, however, as the violence ramps up and the victims are chalked off one at a time, the malevolence of the twins, and their apparent lack of motive becomes palpable.  Andrew Ceperley's brooding score is essential, with its oppressive notes coming from the Carpenter playbook. Brea Grant stars as an L.A. native who accepts a job teaching at the twins’ school.  Her banter with Graham Skipper (who plays her husband) is surprisingly snappy, with the two leads playing off one another with a naturalness that endears them to the viewer.  

The supporting cast is filled with forgettable victims, with each of their deaths serving as examples of how depraved the killers are.  There are a few kill scenes in the setup, but once the action moves into the couple's home is where the fun truly begins.  While the presentation is nowhere near the level of Carpenter's brilliant masterwork, some of the camera angles and blocking will have longtime fans smiling, wanting more.  While the homage borders on direct imitation, Coyne doubles down and goes even further.  Even the font of the credits is akin to Carpenter's portfolio.  

Will Barratt's grainy cinematographer encompasses the mayhem with gloomy shadows and indirect light.  While the limitations of the budget reveal themselves as the climax builds, there is an undeniable amount of charm in the visual presentation.  This isn't a film that's going to change the game, but it is a decent thriller in an overstuffed genre of knock offs and uninspired reboots.  There’s an interesting coda that initially feels tacked on, however, as credits begin to roll, its inclusion becomes abundantly clear. 

Coming to digital on demand on February 6th, Bad Apples is worth a rental if you're looking for a surface level slasher flick that wears its blatant influences like a badge of honor.  While the lack of originality will certainly disappoint those looking for a fresh experience, those horror fans who are eternally stalking the VHS shelved hallways of the mind will find that this is the perfect, low budget 80's experience.

--Kyle Jonathan