Saturday, 22 October 2011

The Task (2010)

I'm not sure exactly why it irritated me so much but The Task is a bad horror movie, a lame duck full of fake scares and a bunch of characters that it's hard to care for.

"The Task" is a yet-to-be-broadcast show that kidnaps and terrifies half a dozen youthful types (three gals and three guys to, y'know, keep things totally even) and then deposits them near an infamous, derelict prison. The prison used to be run by a warden who defined the word sadistic as a starting point for his rules of governance. The six contestants have to spend a whole night in the building and complete a number of set tasks to each be in with a chance of winning a share of a large cash prize. Of course, as you might expect from a horror movie, the empty prison isn't quite empty as everyone thinks. But are ghosts roaming the cell blocks or has the TV show laid on a number of audience-pleasing surprises?

Bloodless, lazy and reliant on numerous moments when a sudden INCREASE IN VOLUME makes you jump, The Task embodies many of the worst aspects of modern, mainstream horror. Don't let the fact that this isn't a sequel or a remake cloud the issue, this is just as unoriginal as 101 other releases from the past year or so and adds to the problem by creating a scenario in which you never take any of the perceived threats all that seriously anyway, knowing that many of the main set-pieces (and I use that term in the very loosest sense as there is nothing here to get excited about or even to bother remembering) could be programmer-controlled japery.

The casting doesn't help. British actors are all well and good but why cast mostly good old UK folk in a movie depicting a bunch of Americans in America? Texas Battle is a familiar face after his so-so turn in Final Destination 2 but the other actor most recognisable to UK viewers will probably be Victor McGuire, a likeable guy but not the best actor to ever attempt an American accent. The girls fare slightly better, for some reason, with Alexandra Staden, Antonia Campbell-Huges, Amara Karan and Ashley Mulheron a little more convincing than Tom Payne and Marc Pickering.

It's director Alex Orwell's first time in the director's chair and that shows as he fails to do anything to impress horror fans and simply limps from one page of Kenny Yakkel's trite script to the next. There are numerous movies along similiar lines that you could choose ahead of this one. Session 9 makes much better use of an abandoned building (even the prison setting itself is never utilised to create anything close to actual spooky atmosphere), My Little Eye is a far superior horror riff on the reality show concept and even the flawed Death Tube has more entertainment value.

Just don't waste your time.

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