Perkins 14 (Movie Review)
The Hopper family seems to be fairly common at first. Dad is a hard-working Deputy Sheriff and a caring father. Daughter Daisy is your typical teen obsessed with boys and gossiping with her girlfriends. Mom is a house wife, who loves her spare time with the book club.
There is darkness in the Hopper's past however. Ten years previous, a man stalked the small town and abducted the young children of 14 families, including The Hoppers. Their son Kyle was taken from their home in the dead of night and despite the father's efforts to find him, no trace could ever be found. Cut to the present day and Dwayne Hopper has to work the night shift at the jail. There he meets a new inmate named Ronald Perkins. Mr. Perkins has a dark past as well and it doesn't take long for Dwayne Hopper to suspect that Mr. Perkins may have been involved in Kyle's abduction so many years before.
Quite often these days do we find familiar themes in our horror films. Zombie attacks, vampire tales, faceless monsters, over time they all tend to blend together. In "Perkins 14" we get some elements of these movies, but they are presented with a fresh coat of paint to make them stand out as something new and fairly original. While I won't go into specific detail here as I want to keep things spoiler free for your enjoyment, there is a new enemy presented in this film that I haven't seen before, and it makes the movie a joy to watch.
Although the film's antagonists share many similarities with your prototypical zombie, it is made quite clear through a few minute details that they are not. You just have to make sure you're paying attention. While the film does suffer from time to time of some mis-edits, the original concept works well. Few and far between, these issues will ultimately be ignored as the director does a good job in explaining them away.
There are however some small moments here and there that don't seem to gel with the rest of the film. The major offender here is the side plot of daughter Daisy and her friends out for a night of partying at the abandoned amusement park. The reason for this side plot is clear, but the jumps from Dwayne Hopper's storyline to Daisy's aren't always the smoothest. What they do is tear you from some of the tension that is built up in the investigation and leaves you watching head Misfit Michael Graves try and make out with a teenager. Eventually the two plots do intertwine though and all is forgiven.
With the plot out of the way, director Craig Singer did have it somewhat easy job considering the talented cast he was working with. Patrick O'Kane as Dwayne Hopper pulls off the stalking and burning intensity needed for the role. He does fall short a few times when his emotions overtake him, but that's okay! As we watch him evolve from an unhappy man bored with his life into a man driven and fueled by revenge, he handles these chores quite well.
The stand out in the cast however is Richard Brake in the role of head creepozoid Ronald Perkins. Brake exudes an intense wrongness that makes your hair stand on edge just watching him work. From the moment he sits up in his jail cell to address Hopper, to the moment he steps foot back at his house, the man is in full on psychopath mode. He fits so naturally into the part that he is a true joy to watch work even though he's making you uncomfortable. Finally, as I mentioned before Michael Graves of The Misfits makes a cameo appearance here. Though he's mostly a throwaway role, he's still worth a couple of laughs.
"Perkins 14" is a great amalgamation of parts stemming from several different genres. There are common zombie movie tropes, a heavy dose of exploitation feel and a wee bit of slasher stalker mixed in for seasoning. Other than a few minor moments that shake you from the flow of the movie, it otherwise manages to captivate and enthrall when needed. Most of the plot summaries that are out there, including IMDB and the After Dark Film Festival's official site are a bit misleading. Having read them beforehand, I ended up with a movie I totally wasn't expecting, and was quite happy.