No longer confined to the Halloween season, horror films are plentiful year-round, but that can be a curse and a blessing. With multiple filmmakers tackling the same themes and tropes, repetition almost is unavoidable. How many killer dolls or ancient curses does it take to saturate the medium?
Yet, some filmmakers find new ways to redefine the horror concept. 2012’s “The Cabin in the Woods,” for instance, offered a white collar explanation as to why teenagers always get into trouble during backwoods vacations.
“Run Like Hell,” the latest entry from Two Guys and a Film, tackles the “taking a wrong turn” theme head-on. James Thomas, who also co-wrote the script, directed a feature whose strength lies in its characters and surprising, off-the-cuff humor.
The film opens with two sisters, Samantha (Tamara Carey) and Maggie (Robyn Buck), and their spouses taking a road trip to see the folks. Instead of flying, Dan (Dave Finn), Samantha’s husband, maps out a “great road trip” for the foursome. Combat vet Luke (Canyon Prince) dislikes Dan and hates driving even more, but he agrees to please Maggie.
While visiting an out-of-the-way tourist attraction, Luke’s Jeep is stolen, leaving the group stranded outside a small town. Everyone they meet seems eager to help them—perhaps a little too helpful. These young people soon find themselves in trouble with no way to contact the outside world.
Though there’s no shortage of wrong-turn movies, “Run Like Hell” is oddly appealing primarily due to its dialogue. Director James Thomas and co-writers Canyon Prince and Joseph Schnaudt didn’t write a comedy, but there’s a sharp wit underneath the blood and gore.
Speaking of Prince, his Luke character is something unusual for the horror genre. Attractive women in horror films typically have hunky significant others (think Chris Hemsworth in “Cabin in the Woods”), but they sometimes aren’t helpful in fights against psychopaths.
Decidedly different, Luke simply is not afraid to go toe-to-toe with the villains of the piece. With his combat training, Luke proves to be quite a handful. He knows that in a life-or-death situation, one has to be ready to fight for their life. And he doesn’t scare easily.
On the flip side, Dave Finn’s Dan is like the Clark Griswold of wrong-turn movies. He’s cerebral and precise and, like Clark, he gets his family into serious trouble. If Luke had insisted that the group fly to see the folks, this would have been a five-minute movie.
Overall, “Run Like Hell” is the type of film that makes staycations look like Heaven on Earth. When gas prices start to seriously drop, it definitely would be better to fly.
“Run Like Hell” is available on VOD and can be ordered on iTunes.