ALL GIRLS WEEKEND is a little bit EVIL DEAD, a little bit BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, and, unfortunately, a wee bit CABIN FEVER. If it falls far short of those two former efforts, though, it is at least equally superior proportionately to the latter. Yes, ALL GIRLS WEEKEND is a scary-thing-in-the-woods movie. There is nothing new here. Just because it is familiar, though, doesn’t necessarily make it bad. A movie can suffer from a case of the same-old-same-olds yet still be an entertaining and worthwhile effort if properly executed. The question is, well, IS it? This movie was written, directed, and produced by the same person, Lou Simon, and since I have mad props for that kind of creative effort—this flick was her creation, her baby, through and through—I kinda hate to be critical of it. Then again, that’s why we’re all here, isn’t it?
Let’s start with the positives and work our way down. The old “inverted pyramid” format I remember from my college journalism class. The cinematography is quite good, though lacking in the little nuances you’d see in a film with a larger budget, more (and more expensive) cameras and equipment, bigger crew, and the like; the location filming is conducted with a deft hand. It’s a pretty movie, aesthetically pleasing. As for the script, it is at its strongest where dialogue is concerned. With occasional hiccups where the lines sound…well, scripted , the effort is overall smooth enough.
I also appreciate how Simon avoids the trap of overusing profanity. I didn’t notice it so much while watching the film, only afterward, that there isn’t much in the way of bad language. (I’m actually having a hard time remembering hearing ANY naughty words, looking back on it.) The fact that I DIDN’T notice is a credit to the writing. The dialogue never felt forced or phony. Simon achieves believable “voice.” That isn’t easy to do.
Working our way down the pyramid…
The plot, I’m afraid, is predictable. I don’t feel the need to announce that there might be spoilers in this review because, honestly, nothing that happens is surprising. When the one girl turns on the others, it is expected, and the viewer could tell you the reasons why she does it before she does. You see it coming from early on. Likewise, the acting is uneven, with some of the performers being better than the others. They all do a suitable job of portraying five friends, with their banter, catty digs, etc., during their “down time” moments, their interactions before the de rigueur going to hell that is prerequisite in any Horror movie. More often than not they sound like real women instead of five performers TRYING to sound like real women (again, credit the writing). –their deficiencies come through when they are supposed to be upset or in pain. Some actors find it easier to handle such “extreme” emotional displays while the everyday, commonplace stuff is more difficult, but with this cast it’s the exact opposite. The ladies never seem as upset as they should be, or upset at all, when their friends start dying off.
The most notable exception is Gema Calero as the character Gem, who delivers the film’s strongest performance. The scene in which her frostbitten fingers are being amputated (sans anesthesia, naturally) is the high-water mark of the movie in terms of effectiveness, the most “real” moment in a production that is sometimes lacking in said realism where the emoting of its characters is concerned.
The weakest spot in the film, for me, is the bear chase scene. They splice in some stock footage (or at least separate footage) of a bear—and it’s not even a particularly scary-looking bear—with the actress running and screaming, the two never in the same shot together. It looks exactly like what it is, and spoils the tenuous suspension of disbelief I had going — the investment I had made — that these ladies were more than just actresses in the woods pretending to be afraid. The bear shouldn’t be there, especially as it serves as nothing more than a convenient plot device to get the women separated.
ALL GIRLS WEEKEND, then, is an uneven effort. While it surely has its faults, it has enough going for it that I’d be interested in seeing future work from Ms. Simon. And again, as stated above, it is light years better than CABIN FEVER.
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