Serena Waits (2018)

Rating: D+

Dir: Hunter Johnson
Star: Colton Wheeler, David Marlowe, Charles Chudabala, Brialynn Massie

…and waits. And waits. And waits some more. In fact, this begins to feel more like a certain Samuel Beckett play, with the audience on hold, pending the return of Serena (Massie). She is – or perhaps was – a college student who was drunkenly wandering home from a party, when she has the misfortune to cross the path of jocks Jack (Wheeler) and Miles (Marlowe). They end up taking her back to their dorm and raping her. Jack whacks her over the head with a baseball bat, and they call in pal Scott (Chudabala) to help dispose of the body. They then get on with their lives, while the viewer wonders why nobody at all is looking for the missing co-ed.

A few months later, the three men are being plagued by nightmares over the event, but this doesn’t stop them from organizing a get-together with their girlfriends. When the spooky events escalate, it of course makes perfect sense for everyone to agree to hold a seance. This might (or might not) bring the spirit of Serena back from beyond the grave in order to take revenge on her attackers. This will only occupy about the final ten minutes before the credits roll. Until that point, we have to endure endless and apparently pointless scenes of them bobbing about the pool, or playing “Never have I ever”. The reality is, never have I ever given a damn about any of these characters. 

It’s a major misstep by the film to assume we want to spend time with these people. It is established over the lengthy abduction and assault of Serena, that they are scumbag rapists, at best. This is all that matters, all that we need to know, and all that we care about. Every scene thereafter is an irrelevance, a largely pointless waste of time which stands between us and seeing them receive the payback they richly deserve. There’s precious little nuance established, with Scott perhaps the least culpable, and Miles the one with whom it might marginally be possible to spend three minutes in their company without vomiting. And that, only if you have a fondness for the likes of Limp Bizkit and Papa Roach.

About the only sequence which actually succeeded is where there’s a loud banging on the apartment door – the aggrieved spirit of Serena demanding entrance – which only the guys can apparently hear. It’s a rare moment of understatement in a movie which is otherwise about as subtle as a baseball bat to the crotch – a simile I choose for specific reason, as the poster implies. Another problem is, it’s Scott (whom if you are paying attention, you’ll remember was the least culpable), who is the victim for the most drawn-out revenge. This really needed to be scumbag Jack, for the vengeance to be satisfying to the audience. Instead, it ends with a twist which is intended to land in an exultation of girl power; here, it provoked more a disappointed roll of the eyes.