Kristy (2014)

Rating: D

Dir: Olly Blackburn
Star: Haley Bennett, Ashley Greene, Erica Ash, Chris Coy

The main purpose this film serves is to make you realize the difference between it, and the “good” entries in the home-invasion/single girl in peril genre are. It effectively provides a low-water mark against which they can be measure: how much better was movie X than Kirsty. For if there’s an element to get wrong, be it pacing, characterization or motivation, this botches it. The titular heroine (Bennett) is alone on her college campus at Thanksgiving; she can’t afford to fly home, and both her room-mate and boyfriend ditch her to be with their families. But a chance encounter on a provisions run to a nearby gas-station appears to kick off a night of terror, as she is hunted across campus by a group of masked individuals, whose motivation can only be guessed at, until the end.

Well, or you can watch the opening credits, because they pretty much gives the game away. Or look up the alternate title under which this was sold in some territories. That spoilers it too, which is unfortunate, given this is one of only a few somewhat memorable things about the entire movie. Another is the almost complete aloneness of the central character, which had me wondering if this was a set-up for a Shining-like twist, where it’s all in Kristy’s head [I imagine the 20-year limitation on spoilers is in effect for Kubrick’s movie]. After all, the film does spend an awful lot of time – far too much – establishing exactly how alone she is. Might have been better if it had, since the film instead has two speeds: grindingly dull and overwrought hysteria, and I’m not sure which is more annoying.

Despite the campus apparently being entirely deserted, no-one seems to bother securing anything, allowing the heroine to roam at will between dimly-lit but unlocked library, poorly-illuminated yet entirely accessible student accommodation and an under-irradiated in the visible spectrum swimming-pool, that’s mysteriously still open for business. The last does at least provide the film’s sole redeeming moment, the camera sliding into the water along with the heroine, than going below the surface too: if you don’t find yourself holding your breath, you’re probably dead already. The rest? Entirely meh. Cold Thanksgiving leftovers are more terrifying.