Film

Open 24 Hours


Open 24 Hours (2018)
★★ / ★★★★

Padraig Reynolds’ “Open 24 Hours” thrives in brutality. When it goes all in with its violence, like showing a sledgehammer splitting open a person’s skull like a juicy watermelon—Thwack!—it is near impossible not to flinch. It acknowledges that violence can be ugly, dirty, messy, and may not be for everyone.

But the movie is not simply a spectacle for gore or barbarity. I think its goal is to modernize the classic slasher—notice its slow buildup and willingness to allow private conversations to unfold. Still, I think it could have been a more potent piece of work had it gone further. For instance, employing unusual or interesting camera angles, playing with harsh or atypical lighting, circumventing the expected beats that lead up to scares, adding an extended heart-pounding chase sequence or two, crafting a killer score. Although I enjoyed the picture, and I am giving it a mild recommendation, I feel it is not special enough to be remembered ten years from now.

Perhaps it has something to do with that lazy, cliché, throwaway ending. Horror movies, especially modern ones functioning on a limited budget, have such a difficult time presenting a satisfying closure. Offering a final shock—even though it fails to make any sense or is completely inappropriate—has become the norm. I expected more from Reynolds, who wrote and directed the underrated but confident horror-thriller “Rites of Spring.” Why not simply end the story in a way that feels right for the character, or characters, we’re following? Why must there be a need to question whether a sequel might follow?

It is also possible that another reason why the picture fails to stand out among its contemporaries is because our protagonist, Mary (Vanessa Grasse), is not a heroine who can belong in the classic slasher films that the writer-director clearly admires. The interesting thing is we are ready for her to be a Laurie Strode (“Halloween”), a Nancy Thompson (“A Nightmare on Elm Street”), a Sidney Prescott (“Scream”), or even a Ginny (“Friday the 13th Part 2”) because Mary has the backstory: she is a genuinely penitent ex-con, sent to prison for having set her former boyfriend on fire. And her ex just so happens to be the so-called Rain Ripper (Cole Vigue), whose modus operandi is kidnapping and murdering women when it rains. Mary was labeled by the media as The Watcher because for a time she knew about his… extracurricular activity but did nothing.

Grasse paints Mary as flawed but likable, still suffering from deep and unresolved trauma. Not to mention overwhelming guilt. There is one too many sequences where she experiences visual and auditory hallucinations even though these are executed rather well. When jolts come, you can tell that Reynolds is a fan of the horror genre. But it is most disappointing that when Mary is eventually hunted by the man she should have killed when she had the chance, we don’t quite feel that fight in her. Detecting that fire within our heroine is so important in slasher films. A case can be made that such fire can make or break a movie.

The body count is surprisingly high in this film—especially because it is filled with kind characters. There is Debbie (Emily Tennant), a true friend who decides to stick by her pal and actively root for her when Mary herself feels like she’s worthless. There is Bobby (Brendan Fletcher), a funny and caring gas station attendant who has been assigned to train recently hired Mary thirty minutes before her 10:00 P.M. to 6:00 A.M. shift. And then there is Tom (Daniel O’Meara), Mary’s parole officer. He is tough on Mary, but we never doubt his reasons. O’Meara portrays Tom as a man who is tired of seeing ex-cons get sent back to jail for being foolish. There is not one line of dialogue that suggests this possibility; it is all in the eyes and how he carries himself.

“Open 24 Hours” is a tough call from the angle of giving recommendation to the general audience. It may not possess an original story, but it does a handful of things right. However, it is an easy call for horror fans: It is likely you’ll find entertainment or value from it even though a. it is far from innovative from a storytelling point of view and b. it is not quite successful in shaping a modern slasher to be shortlisted as a standout for years to come. It has enough personality and flavor to sustain a hundred minutes—and sometimes that’s enough to scratch the itch.

10 replies »

  1. Okay, I may check this one out soon. I think I saw the trailer a few weeks back, and didn’t think it looked good, but I will give it a chance and go in with low expectations.

  2. I just finished it. I agree with your review. It was well directed, and even the writing was good for the most part; it’s good to see a horror film that has characters that are actually likable, and not over the top. The director here has a good grasp on horror and how to write it, but i agree the final frame was very cliche, but it didn’t ruin the movie or anything. Like you, I just wish writers/directors would put some effort into the ending, that leaves audiences either satisfied, surprised or wanting more; this one did none of those. But I can forgive it b/c at least while watching I wasn’t shouting at the characters on-screen every 5 minutes for doing something stupid.

  3. I just watched “The Little Things”. I see you don’t have a review posted yet; did you see it? I’m not sure what you’ll think about it. I think you’d like it, but not sure. A lot of people have complained and said it’s slow, etc. but I think the story moves pretty well, but it just doesn’t have much action or violence. But that’s fine with me as long as the story moves and doesn’t drag. It’s one of those types that makes you think for a while after it’s over, so those are always interesting, even if the execution isn’t the best. Interested to see your review after you watch it.

    • I was thinking of seeing it yesterday (I opted for “The Dark and the Wicked” instead) but was dissuaded due to the many negative reviews. I want a “Zodiac”-level thriller. Not some diluted thing. But who knows? I might see it today. Although I’ve been meaning to revisit “The Faculty.” LOL. I came across it on Xfinity while browsing. I was like, “Ooh! It’s been a while!” That movie is so underrated. The last time I watched it was high school, though… so I really, really hope it holds up. I miss that era of horror. So cheesy but willing to take risks!

      • I saw you posted a review for this; i’m going to read it soon. I’m watching The Wire right now; have you seen it? I delayed watching it, but finally started a few days ago and am binging the series. I just started season 4.

        • I have heard so much positive things about “The Wire,” but I never did give it a chance. But since you brought it up, I hope I can soon. I just finished watching the first season of “The Sinner,” and I really enjoyed it. It was an emotional rollercoaster! I think it’s Biel’s best work for sure. I felt so bad for her character, what she went through herself and for her sister. I’ve decided to continue on to Season 2.

  4. I’m glad you liked The Sinner. I was hesitant to recommend season 1 b/c of Jessica Biel, but I thought she did a good enough job; if you liked season 1 I think you’ll like season 2, as well. And season 3 is very different, and the writing may not have been as strong as the first two seasons, but i think the character development was deeper, and so I actually liked season 3 the most, thus far in the series…

    Yeah, I finally watched The Wire, and it is very insightful and informative. I think you’ll be hooked quick. I ordered HBO on Prime for $14.99/month and streamed the whole series in a week. I’m going to unsub now that I finished the show, so essentially I paid to rent the series, and I think that’s a good deal. There’s so much to unpack in this series, but my favorite part was Detective McNulty going after Stringer Bell (Idris Elba) which you see just a couple minutes in of the pilot. I think secretly they loved playing cat-and-mouse against one another. lol. They reminded me a bit of Batman and Joker.

    • I started Season 2 and wow, okay, I didn’t expect that it would revolve around a kid. But I look forward to the mysteries it has to reveal…

      I’m considering to just go ahead and buy “The Wire” on DVD or Bluray. I mean, everyone claims it’s a masterpiece. I think I may get on it after “The Sinner.” Only one show at a time for me. hehe

      • awesome deal. I think you should buy The Wire b/c you’d want to own after watching, anyway; it’s more than just a show; it’s actually educational. Sure, it has a lot of fiction, but it’s founded from truth; truths that cover inner city crime, the police, politics, the school, journalism. Even if it’s technically fiction, it offers lots of insight how many types of people in all walks of life are living, and trying to survive, and how some will embrace making moral choices, and others give into greed…

        But yeah The Sinner is interesting for other reasons; you could spread out watching different seasons at different times if you wanted, where as with The Wire you’re going to want to watch the entire series close together as the entire series is connected. Season 2 starts out slow, but you gradually start seeing how it actually ties into season 1, and it sets the stage for season 3, and then it is all tied together to kind of blow your mind at the end of season 3. Then season 4 and 5 do the same thing about other aspects. It’s really interesting after you’re all done and looking back at everything collectively.

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