RITES OF PASSAGE
MOVIE: * (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: *1/2 (out of 5)
BY KEVIN CARR
I’m a fan of horror movies. I’m also a fan of low-budget horror movies. In fact, sometimes this low-budget scripts with cobbled-together resources give a much better film than their big-budget cousins in the multiplex.
But then there’s the casting of Christian Slater. And that can really ruin a horror movie – or any movie, for that matter – nowadays.
However, I don’t blame Christian Slater for “Rites of Passage.” It was doomed before he was even sent a script. Ultimately, it suffers from an obsession with cliches, awful characters and misplaced comic relief that isn’t even very funny to begin with.
The story follows a group of college students off on a vacation together. As you can see, it’s rocking a great original start (and not in a meta, genre deconstructive way like “The Cabin in the Woods,” either). The kids are there ostensibly to study a buried Indian culture. Others are there to party. Their college professor, who is along for the ride, is there to get laid by a sexy co-ed. Simultaneously, a meth-head businessman (Slater) goes crazy and starts a killing spree while a disturbed family member (Wes Bentley) tries to become hitched to one of the girls with an ancient Native American rite. It’s a crazy time to be a college student at this school.
The biggest shame of “Rites of Passage” is that it’s not all horrible. The ideas in the movie actually offer something more than your standard slasher-in-the-woods feature. Unfortunately, the tale is so incompetently told that any originality is crushed by the weight of nonsense in the plot.
Banking on a former star like Christian Slater might have been a good deal in pre-production. However, he’s given a weird Cisco Kid sock monkey sidekick. I get that he’s hopped up on meth and pretty much insane. However, the wise-cracking sock monkey breaks any tension this movie might have built in terms of a horror or thriller story.
Personally, I’ve always liked Christian Slater, after his breakout performance in “Heathers.” However, his career has really hit the skids lately. A few failed TV shows ought to do that to you, of course. Now, he’s relegated to crappy bit parts in crappy movies.
And seriously, this movie is just crap.
The only special features on this Blu-ray is the theatrical trailer and a short making-of featurette. So, with that in mind, you might want to consider skipping this one completely.