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Featured DVD Review: Ten

May 17th, 2015

Ten - Buy from Amazon: DVD

Good Kill

Ten is an ultra-low-budget horror film. Its production budget was just $25,000. There are probably lots of people reading this who drive a car more expensive than that. ... My DVD collection cost more than that, if you include the retail price of all of the DVDs and Blu-rays I have received to review over the years. (This is why I keep giving away previously reviewed stuff with our box office prediction contest.) This isn't the first film I've reviewed with a budget this low. Some have been awful, but there have also been some horror gems made in this price range. Is this one of the better examples? Or does it fall victim to its budget?

The Movie

The film begins with a title card telling us we are on Spektor Island off the coast of Massachusetts in December or 1971. We see a woman walking through a house and we notice two things right away. Firstly, there's a pig motif to the design of this place. Secondly, there's someone in butcher's garb following her. After a quick chase, she ends up at the edge of the cliff and after some trippy events, she falls into the water.

After the opening, we see another title card telling us we are in the exact same place, only it is a year later. Inside the house is a group of five women, including the woman from the prologue. It seems she was rescued and taken to the hospital. As she's talking about what happened, the doorbell rings, or squeals like a pig, and yet another woman shows up. This time it is a Model who is there for a photoshoot. In time, more and more women show up until there are ten of them, each there for different reasons. When the last of the women arrive, they learn that a storm has arrived and the last ferry for the night has already left.

So a group of women are stuck on a island in a mansion where there was an attack exactly one year ago. You can probably guess what happens next. Okay, you can probably guess that some of these women start dying, but you certainly won't guess exactly what happens. I watched the movie and I don't know what exactly happened; that's how weird this movie is. This is a movie so weird that one of the main characters basically explains the plot near the end of the movie and I'm still not 100% sure what this movie is about. This is both a plus and a negative. On the one hand, the strange nature of the movie adds to the psychological nature of the horror. It's a head trip, for sure. On the other hand, if you don't get into it right away, you will be bored well before the reveal happens. Worse still, the reveal doesn't feel natural. The surprise twist doesn't feel organic and I don't think anyone watching the movie will figure it out ahead of time, because it doesn't follow logically from what we've seen. That said, it fits with the trippy nature of the movie and if you get into it, it is just one more piece of strangeness to deal with.

There are some issues with the budget. There are not a lot of special effects and the ones we see do look cheap. The overall look of the film also shows its budget limitations, but to its credit, the location and the cinematography do help with the atmosphere. The acting is a little rough at times. For many of the actresses, this was their first role, which partially explains that issue. Also, lower budgets mean less time for rehearsal and a tighter shooting schedule means there's less time for retakes.

The Extras

The extras begin with the fake trailer that inspired the movie. Brattle Theatre's Trailer Smackdown is a festival where they give the name of a fake film and a list of potential locations, characters, etc. There are also three deleted scenes.

The Verdict

Ten starts out in a rather cliché way. A group of strangers arrive at an isolated house and soon they start dying. However, while the setup has been done countless times in the past, it quickly goes in strange directions. Some people will love this strangeness, while others will be put off by the very aspect of the movie. If strange horror movies interest you, at least give this one a rental. The DVD doesn't have much in the way of extras, so maybe Video on Demand is the better option.

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Filed under: Video Review, Ten, Kerri Lynch, Leah Principe