Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Let’s hope this doesn’t ever come to pass where people who break the chain of some e-mail chain letter end up murdered to death. Everybody on the planet earth would be dead. I got an email chain letter from my dad the other day. My freaking father. What is up with that?

Somewhere in the reality this movie ‘Chain Letter’ exists in, there is an angry ugly extra large dude who hates technology. But he has mastered this technology that hates so much… which is crazy… like a fox! This big ugly mean dude also hates teenagers. A lot. True enough the teens in our movie looked a little long in the tooth to be in high school but that doesn’t stop this cat from hating on them something fierce.

One day Neil the geek (Cody Kasch) was getting down on some World of Warcraft when he gets a chain letter email which said something along the lines of ‘Pass it on or die’. His sister Rachel the slut (Cherilyn Wilson) stops her brother from deleting this message and passes it along to her best friends. Worst Friend Ever. The first person who acknowledges this email is Johnny the Jock (Matt Cohen) who angrily deletes the message because Johnny the Jock is one angry son of a bitch. Across town three of Johnny’s friends also get this email in Michael the Black Guy (Michael J. Pagan), Dante the gearhead (Noah Segan) and Jessie the Final Girl (Nikki Reed). The Black Guy forwards his email along because he’s not taking any chances, but the rest delete theirs. Also in this movie there is the underlying theme of anti-technology as presented by these high schoolers teacher of…. Hell, I don’t what class Mr. Smirker (Brad Dourif) teaches… but it is high school so let’s call it Social Studies. But Mr. Smirker spends an awful lot time railing on technology in his class while teaching his kids absolutely nothing, and caressing Jessie.

The first kid that gets it from the evil Chain Man (Michael Bailey-Smith) is the angry jock and the Chain Man truly displays his distaste for high schoolers in this particularly gory scene. It s not long before our next kid gets it and now Detective Crenshaw

(Keith David) is on the case. Just so you know Detective Crenshaw could very well be the dumbest cop ever. We have a serial killer on the loose and this serial killer is clearly out of his or her mind on top of being ridiculously strong. Therefore any detective with a lead on this case should probably never go anywhere without backup, or at the very least letting his fellow cop friends know where he is at all times. Detective Crenshaw never feels the need to do this. We can’t tell you if anything bad happens to Detective Crenshaw but if it does, he gets what he deserves.

Eventually the Final Girl figures out it’s all about the emails, the detective figures out there’s an evil tech hating, barcode sporting cult spearheading this terror, and none of this figuring out will help anybody. Not in the least.

I’ll give it to director Deon Taylor and his co-writer Michael J. Pagan in that their movie ‘Chain Letter’ does do a few things differently, things that I’m not going to get into because that will just spoil it for you, but it does give us a couple of little twists on the genre of the horror flick while still maintaining a lot of the tired core elements of horror movies. You know, older than average jocks, geeks, sluts, final girls and oppressive dudes in a mask totally wrecking folks. Those kinds of tired core elements.

But there are some things to look for if you decide to take on the mission of ‘Chain Letter’. It’s not for the squeamish considering there are quite a few really horrible kills in this thing. Plus the movie looks and sounds fantastic so you be able to see and hear these torturous, over top, brutalizations of irritating teenagers with crystal clarity. It’s not for those that value watching sound police work in their movies since as we said before, Detective Crenshaw is like the worst cop ever and likes to interview witnesses at the funerals of their friends. Keith David’s super smooth dulcet tones can only carry a character so far.

‘Chain Letter’ also isn’t for those that like a little clarity in their stories. Characters float in and out who you think might mean something to the overall tone of the story but they are pretty much dropped and despite the underlying technology theme the movie will eventually become just another slasher flick. The whole anti-technology backdrop was cool and all but in the grand scheme of things it didn’t really amount to much since it looked like our killer just really hated these kids in particular. One idiot kid did everything he was supposed to do and got killed anyway. That’s kind of inequitable. And who is this killer dragging around 80 pounds in chains? How he can scale walls and snake around town unnoticed considering he’s 6’6" weighs around 350 and is always dragging around chains is a mystery, and how he can type so effortlessly with gauze wrapped around fingers three inches thick is another mystery, just like the mystery as to why he doesn’t use the mouse on his computer. A halfway decent cop probably could’ve tracked this killer down in no time flat, but… no need to beat a dead horse.

‘Chain Letter’ is a little on the scatterbrained side of the curve but it does look nice, has a lot gory stuff in it for those who like that kind of thing… you know who you are… and it does a couple of things different. That is worth something in our book.

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