Thursday, 9 July 2020

Devil's Junction: Handy Dandy's Revenge (2019) - Horror Film Review

Devil's Junction: Handy Dandy's Revenge (directed by Jeff Broadstreet) had an interesting premise to it. Having a load of puppets running rampant brought to mind the classic Puppet Master series, the addition of horror icons Bill Oberst Jr. (3 from Hell, Age of the Living Dead) and Bill Moseley (The Devil's Rejects, Repo! The Genetic Opera) meant I just had to check this one out. It didn't live up to my expectations sadly, that is mainly down to the uninspired script and some very bad CG effects.

Steffen (Jake Red - The Right Eye 2) has brought his friends to a creepy old building his rich father, Richard (Moseley) had recently purchased. He has dreams of turning the place into an exclusive club and hopes his friends will both donate money, as well as bring their friends to the place. His friends include among them womaniser Rick (Arthur Marroquin - Santa Jaws) and his model girlfriend Abby, nerdy Doc (Danni Spring - Dr. Horrible's Unofficial Sing-Along Sequel), sporty Rosie (Kyle Anderson), and Josie (KateLynn E. Newberry). It used to be home to a popular children's TV puppet show that took place in the 60's, unknown to the group the host of that show, Mr. Jolly (Oberst Jr.) is still living there. The man not only has ties to Richard, but he also happens to be a legitimate magician, able to control peoples movements, and also able to give life to puppets...

Despite the average acting of the main young cast I started off with high hopes for this. The set-up was perfectly fine. The characters were completely one dimensional stereotypes but for a slasher I didn't think that would be too much of a problem. However it is the script itself that is the worst part here, some characters in particular feel like they didn't really have a strong role in mind for them. Best of the actors here was Oberst Jr. He is someone who seems to get better and better the more lines of dialogue he is given, his voice is made for acting. Luckily, and one thing Devil's Junction does get right is that he has by far the biggest speaking part in the movie. Moseley is truly wasted here, he spends much of the film sat in a chair and his lines sound like they were added as an afterthought. His character hardly gets to do anything other than react to the situation around him. There's only so many times you can have a character protest or exclaim without it starting to feel like there was hardly even a need to have them there due to adding so little.

Initially Mr. Jolly is kept in the shadows. The first half of the movie is a more typical slasher style film. The group, as always happens in horror movies get separated from each other, and one by one they fall victim to the various dummies running around. Some of the deaths look decent, a hanging in particular made for a really fun scene. Elsewhere the effects really got in the way. Acidic smoke burns looked terrible, and one character gets sliced in half in the most artificial looking way possible. The films second half becomes something more along the lines of Saw, nowhere near as grisly and violent as that series, but the survivors are forced to participate in a sick game. It culminates in a finale whose terrible CG effects knock the wind right out of the story, it may have almost been better just to cut to credits without the resolution given here. It is a shame many of the effects look so bad, they ripped me right out the story each time they reared their ugly heads.
It isn't all terrible though, I found the dummies to have some character to them, and there is some nice looking blood, but overall so much of this was unsatisfying.

The plot on paper sounds good. There are parts of it that could have been great if they had been expanded on. Mr. Jolly at one point for instance states he is over 200 years old! This is never gone back to. Add to this some silly plot twists towards the end, and a lack of too much threat and you have a horror that is far more bark than bite. The often promised violence and terror never culminated in anything near my expectations each time it happened. The soundtrack was quite generic, I could have sworn I have heard the exact same music used in other films.

Devil's Junction: Handy Dandy's Revenge was not a good horror film, nor was it so bad it was fun to watch. I couldn't help but feel disappointed by the look of this. Oberst Jr. is the best thing about this by far, but even he was not able to bring the convoluted story together. It was nice to see Moseley, but his character got to do so little that he wasn't able to bring anything memorable to his role. Not the worst film out there, but not something I would really recommend to anyone either. Devil's Junction: Handy Dandy's Revenge is available to watch on Terror TV.


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