New VOD Releases: Crypsis (2019)-Reviewed

When it comes to low budget, straight-to-video/VOD horror, you always want to go a little easier on the film and its makers. If there's a charm, either in how inventive the filmmakers are in how they mask their budget or in a "so bad it's fun" kind of way, you can usually forgive most shortcomings. Unfortunately, Crypsis, from Evolutionary Films and directer Paul Anthony Morgan, is neither of those things.

Taking place over a night on a wooded island, a group of friends break up into teams and place bets to see who can last longer "roughing it." Their night of fun is soon interrupted by a creature who's stalking them from somewhere within the woods. And, well, that's pretty much it. It's essentially an hour of these guys running through the woods with this thing shambling behind them. 

What immediately hurts the whole endeavor is you can absolutely tell most of the effects budget went into the creature's design. It's a good design and probably what works best but it's at the expense of everything you come to horror for. The kills are never interesting, never bloody and rarely seen. A favorite choice that the film makes is to show the monster wrapping his claw around someone's throat only to cut away immediately after. Again, you try to understand budgetary constraints but low budget horror at its best finds ways around that. This doesn't. It cashes all its chips into a relatively impressive monster and hopes you're wowed enough to sustain 80 minutes of zero scares, zero gore and zero tension. The few times it does hold your interest, it's when you see through the creature's eyes. It's not quite the infrared effect from Predator but it's interesting enough to look at it that you almost forget you're watching scene after scene of these guys running back and forth through the woods.

The cast doesn't help either. At minimum, a movie like this should have a relatively diverse cast of characters to keep you interested enough in them as the creature picks them off. Diverse in this case could mean actual diversity or diversity in personality types. This has almost none of that, save for one guy (Anthony Hoang). Every guy in this movie is an annoying frat bro with almost zero characteristics. Aside from Ethan (Eddie Nason), the designated leader, the rest of the guys in this group have one default: cowardice played for laughs. There are two separate dudes in this group who have multiple scenes where their fear is played for a lame joke. It's like the film forgets they both exist and ends up making them the same character. These guys are so interchangeable and forgettable that you never remember who's who or who's dead. And not a single one is even remotely likable. The unfortunate and prerequisite homophobic jokes don't help but you almost expect that from these kind of characters. The fact that the film doesn't even attempt to redeem any of them or give them any other traits is stunningly lazy. 

Despite every effort to want to like this movie purely based on its spirit, the way I would for most horror cheapies, Crypsis fails to entertain on any level. A poor cast made poorer by bad writing gives you nothing to hold onto and even with its low budget, it manages to be more inept than you'd ever imagine. Poor editing and sound mixing is to be expected but the sound fully cuts out for a good 3-4 minutes at one point. I thought maybe it was a bold stylistic choice in a film with none of them but when it continues on to the next scene and people are having a full on conversation, you realize that nope, this is just a bad movie. It's too bad that by the last 15 minutes, when the film actually attempts something interesting, you're too checked out to even notice.

-Brandon Streussnig