You can look past certain things when watching a low-budget independent horror movie. Acting and production value aren’t something you’re watching to see how well it looks. Some directors use this to their advantage to tell an interesting story, while others use lots of music to provide their creep factor. What director/co-writer/producer/cinematographer J.M.R. Luna really needs to do is throw as much red corn syrup around as he can afford. Horror fans aren’t hard to please, but we want more than just tacking a Hostel-esque finale to almost an hour of Hangover shenanigans. It’s exactly what Eli Roth’s original Hostel was in the first place. All Luna did was fill his film, Stripped, with a cast of terrible actors playing huge douchebags who we want to see get their comeuppance in the end — even that he refused to give us.
Stripped opens with a man in a hotel room meeting with a hooker while a news report plays on the TV about a girl named Capri found dead. The movie then switches to found footage introducing us to Cameron (Carson Aune) who is about to make a sex tape. Before they get to that point a horn honks and Cameron picks up his clothes, grabs the camera, and runs out the door. He’s being picked up by his friends Luke (Josh Cole) and Jake (Nick Cole) for Jake’s 21st birthday. All they want to do is have a weekend of debauchery like every 21-year-old group of friends. Along the way they pick up Tommy Kay (Alvaro Orlando) and Capri (Nicole Sienna) who begs them to take her along so she can meet up with her boyfriend. After an excruciating 50 minutes with this band of asshats, the plot finally rears its head as they head to “Paradise” to have sex with hookers from a business card they found in a restroom. You know, like you do. And here is where the film really goes awry.
If you’re going to make a found footage film, then stick to your premise. Don’t start your film as a standard narrative, switch to found footage, and then go back and forth. All this proves is that you didn’t have enough plot to begin with and needs filler to explain what’s going on. Not one character is worth saving by the end of the runtime, let alone that once you’ve already driven home the fact that we want to see everyone die, Luna basically starts the film over by jumping back in the timeline and showing events from someone else’s camera. Yes, you basically have to suffer through the film twice in one sitting, which is sad when the runtime is a scant 80 minutes to begin with. The only special features are nine minutes worth of trailers before the menu starts up for Elevator, Vile, Creep Van, The Columbian Connection, and A Haunting at Silver Falls. Stripped is available on video now but it’s not worth a purchase, nor the buck at Redbox.
Cover art courtesy Inception Media Group