As I sat down to watch the generic-sounding but slightly promising Stag Night, I popped on to the twitter to share my rambling thoughts. Within minutes I had a response from one of my coolest colleagues, Brian W. Collins (of Bloody-Disgusting and Horror Movie a Day infamy), who said something like “Dude, don’t bother. It’s like watching Creep while your cat scratches your crotch.” (I’m paraphrasing, and yes I have a cat.) But despite his wise-ass comments, Brian knows fully well that I’m required (and of course happy) to throw 80 minutes at *any* potentially colorful horror flick -- especially if I’m going to, y’know, write a review of the thing.
And hey, the blandly-titled Stag Night (it’s not about game hunting) does have a few things going for it: the cast is full of names you may remember from a few years ago at the multiplex. Folks like Kip Pardue (The Wizard of Gore), Vinessa Shaw (The Hills Have Eyes), and Breckin Meyer (The Craft), for example. Surely you could do worse than an 84-minute “subway tunnel” horror flick full of those friendly faces!
Directorial debut of Peter Dowling (he wrote the decidedly cleverer Flight Plan), Stag Night seems like a “dry run” on two counts: as if Mr. Dowling was able to direct a film because his previous script had been a success, so he pulled an old “dry run” script out of a drawer and decided to cut his directorial teeth on a patently simplistic project. But by those standards, still, Stag Night isn’t half-bad. One could (and will, in a second) gripe about the irritatingly one-note characters or the overtly familiar trappings, or one could mentally compare all of Stag Night’s components (both good and bad) to better “sub-”horror flicks like the aforementioned Creep and the cult classic Raw Meat (aka Death Line).
So yeah: it’s about four guys and two gals (all pretty stupid) who get stranded deep beneath the city when their train breaks down. If that’s not annoying enough, there’s a bunch of feral cannibals scurrying around, which means it’s only a matter of time before our group of six dwindles down to … let’s say two. But not before they argue, whine, break into sub-groups for really bad reasons, fall down, shriek, and get stabbed.
For the last time: the plot is not the star of the show here. The underground tunnels are rather oppressively creepy, truth be told, and the beastly man-eaters are suitably unpleasant. Dowling even manages to keep his generic story percolating with a nice sense of pace and visual nastiness … but in the end, even at its best moments, Stag Night is a highly forgettable affair. It’s unlikely that only a few cool kills, a small splash of style, and a quick pace could ever salvage a screenplay this simplistic -- but if you’re a big fan of all things that attack obnoxious people deep inside subway tunnels, Stag Night could fit the bill on a dry weeknight.