Over in America, this horror movie was touted as the first theatrical release from The Asylum. Most people who know me, and my dubious taste, will know that I have quite a love-hate relationship with The Asylum. They made Transmorphers, the first movie I ever gave a lowly 1/10 rating, but they also gave me dumb fun such as Mega Piranha and the infamous Mega Shark Vs. Giant Octopus. I keep defending them, despite their business model built around "mockbusters" and SyFy Channel movies, and people keep telling me off for it. Well, it's not going to change, especially now that they're starting to take some more risks and put out some more original product (which, contrary to popular belief, they have been doing for some time - it's just that the mockbusters get the press, so to speak).
Hold Your Breath isn't really that good, but it has one or two decent death scenes and might be okay for a rental if you have enough beers beside you. Part of me knows that this film just isn't good enough while another part of me wants it to do okay, just well enough to encourage the company to keep trying. Perhaps if they keep trying, they'll make something good enough to surprise us all.
The plot is standard horror 101. A prologue shows viewers a nasty murderer being put to death and then things move forward to a bunch of pretty young things all heading away for a weekend trip. Apparently, there's an urban myth that while passing a cemetery you have to hold your breath. If you don't do it then any evil, restless spirit can enter you and make you do bad things. Can you guess what happens as the group drives past a cemetery?
Directed by Jared Cohn, and written by Geoff Meed (who himself directed the absolutely awful The Amityville Haunting), this starts off badly, picks up slightly after the main titles and then proceeds to slide, slowly and surely, back down to the bottom of the pile. The concept of the evil spirit taking people over and turning them into evil killers isn't that bad, it was done well in the likes of Shocker and Fallen, but in between numerous average scenes The Asylum end up shoehorning in a lot of poor, and unnecessary, CGI.
The cast is a real mixed bag and I'm not going to pretend that I cared enough about everyone onscreen to stop them from blurring into one big potential murder victim. Katrina Bowden is the best thing onscreen by a country mile, though Steve Hanks also does well with his role. As for the others, Seth Cassell may stand out slightly from the others, but Lisa Younger, Jordan Pratt-Thatcher, Brad Slaughter and Randy Wayne could all get together and rob me at gunpoint and I wouldn't be able to remember a thing about them. It's not that they are terrible or completely nondescript, it's just that they're not given any material to help differentiate themselves from one another. ANY of the men and women onscreen, for the most part, could play any of the other men or women.
I'm not bothered by the fact that the film doesn't supply the horror genre with a memorable new villain, I don't care that the script is pretty clunky and preposterous and I don't even mind that the characters aren't all that likable. What stops me from rating this film as even an average horror are the many moments that just feel lazy and careless. It's not THAT hard to make a generic, uninventive horror movie. To make one that doesn't even stand up well alongside OTHER generic and uninventive horror movies is never good. And that bothers me.