From the title of this thriller/horror I was hoping for some kind of unravelling of 6 parallel storylines which neatly reveal the identity of the killer and their motives at the end. Unfortunately this film isn’t that clever. But it doesn’t try to be clever either and is just a straightforward story of a school girl trying to find her friends before they are murdered.
Spoilers after the beep.
6 plots is about 7 Australian high school kids who are kidnapped and killed off by a mysterious assailant. The 7 kids have a booze and drug fuelled party at a beach house whose owners are out of town. At some point in the middle of the night one of them wakes up to find the others gone. Cryptic messages on her phone let her know that her friends are in danger and only she can save them if she can find them in time.
The first 20 minutes or so of this film are taken up with establishing some of the characters and locations but this really doesn’t seem necessary. Most of the characters are just sketches really and after the party scene most spend the rest of the film trapped in wooden boxes. To the viewer it doesn’t seem to really matter which of the kids is which anyway. I think that it would have had more impact and more WTF factor if the film had started with 7 people in boxes and told whatever plot/character development is necessary via flashback.
Being a film about young people, the plot is very tech heavy with most of the dialogue being between people on their cell phones or over the internet. The trapped victims and their deaths are broadcast over the internet in a live webcast. Much of the action involves the killer monitoring and controlling the victim’s cell phone conversations which is occasionally used to interesting and innovative effect, like cutting off a conversation part way through to increase confusion and fear in the victims.
Despite being told “no parents, no authorities”, almost immediately a couple of policemen and a fire chief become involved and help out the main character. This is a bit of a shame as the only thing that really sets this film apart from other films of this type is that the main protagonist is a school girl with the attendant lack of resources that a school girl has compared to, for example, a police department. Once this rule is broken, the killer starts systematically offing the victims and it becomes a race against time to save them. Since it is obviously the killer’s intention to kill them all I’m not sure why they don’t just murder them all once it becomes obvious that things aren’t going his way.
Despite going on about technology and remote control, the killer seems to have set up his traps so that he needs to be physically present to trigger them or so that they will go off at a certain time which really doesn’t seem to fit with his supposed plan or mindset. For example he obviously wants to be able to decide which people die and when but has made this very difficult for himself by placing them far apart and not giving himself control over the timing of some of the deaths.
The individual fates of the victims are all somehow linked to the characters, a smoker is burned, a swimmer is drowned, a guy who works in a saw mill is sawed in half but the reasons for this are never explained or even hinted at, I guess it just makes for a better story than just shooting them all. The killer doesn’t seem to be able to decide whether he wants the victims to be found or if he just wants them all dead so in the end I suppose that it is fitting that some of them make it and some don’t.
Unfortunately, since most of the characters spend much of the film locked in boxes and much of the outdoor action takes place at night, this is a very dark movie. I often found myself staring at a mostly black screen straining to make out what is supposed to be going on. Now I usually get annoyed when film makers artificially light up scenes that should take place in almost total darkness but here they obviously want us to be able to see what is going on inside these boxes. Moreover, the killer obviously wants people to be able to see too. After all he has rigged them with cameras to broadcast to the internet! Also all the kids have their phones with them and (despite commenting on it several times) none of them seem particularly worried about battery life. So really there was no excuse for them to keep the interior shots so dark all the time.
Crappy ending spolier alert: After the survivors have got out of their boxes (and out of hospital in one case) and following an annoyingly pointless “3 Months Later” caption, we find out via a flashback that this was probably all precipitated by an act of bullying that took place earlier. We don’t really find out anything about the bullying or why it would trigger such a disproportionate response. We do see some clips/flashes of this event throughout the film and this does link in nicely with those but it does seem like a bit of a weak plot.
The other day I read a film that I had watched recently described as “a film for the sake of making a film” and I said that it felt like it could have been easily improved but no one cared enough to try. Well this also feels a bit like a film for the sake of making a film but the people making it seem to have had some idea about what they were doing and a desire to improve it. The result is too good to be in the so bad it is good category but not really good enough to be described as a good movie.