The Culling (2015) **
D: Rustam Branaman
C: Jeremy Sumpter, Elizabeth Di Prinzio, Brett Davern, Johnathon Schaech, Chris Coy, Linsey Godfrey, Virginia Williams, Harley Graham, Jennifer Bowman
Plot Synopsis: A group of college friends on a road trip find themselves fighting off dark forces at a remote farmhouse after a chance encounter with a strange little girl.
Review: In The Culling, the obligatory group of young people are gathered at an isolated setting where they're haunted by some kind of supernatural or demonic presence. Sound familiar?
There's the obligatory opening sequence in which someone is seen running for their life from an unseen force. There's the obligatory meet cute sequences in which the protagonists are introduced and we watch them drive cross country. There's the obligatory scene in which the characters have to deviate off course. There's the obligatory scene in which the characters realize something bad is happening. There's the obligatory scene in which everyone argues about what to do. There's the obligatory scenes in which too much CGI is used. And then there's the obligatory final showdown.
It's as though writer Rustam Branaman took out the horror road trip from hell playbook and copied it word for word. As a director, Branaman fairs slightly better. The acting is solid all around. The pacing is just right. We're given enough time to actually connect with the characters, but not so much that things begin to drag. The horror sequences aren't rushed. Some tension is allowed to generate. The principal setting isn't photographed as some place of great evil. At first glance, the human villains actually come across as people you might know in real life. There's some actual credibility established as to why the characters have fallen into this wrong turn trap that other characters from other horror films have fallen victim to.
These are nice touches, but for most, it's too subtle. Most people will still see The Culling as an overly familiar take on the low budget supernatural thriller and I can't blame them. This type material has been done to death and The Culling doesn't offer anything distinctive to separate itself from the others.
It's an efficient, but unremarkable addition to the genre. [Not Rated] 81 minutes.
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