After taking time to set up her new life in America, Sarah returns to her isolated countryside home in England for a much-delayed visit. However she comes to back to trouble: her mother is missing and assumed to be visiting a lover; her father has financial issues; and her ex-boyfriend Doug has gotten together with her childhood friend. But when a storm knocks out the power, they realise that they’re not alone in the house as a deadly creature is now roaming the corridors.
Sailing on the coattails of the fact that it’s produced by one of the guys who produced Dog Soldiers, 13 Hrs can’t hide the fact that’s a film low on budget and even lower on fresh ideas. I can’t be too hard on it since it was shot in six weeks, edited quickly afterwards on a meagre budget and the fact that it is British (supporting my home film industry and all of that….). Actually I can be hard on it since surely there’s more that one can do with a bit of imagination and creativity than simply rehash tired old clichés and band them together with a shoe-string plot.
I honestly had no idea that this was meant to be a werewolf film (shows you how little attention I paid to the DVD cover which actually mentions werewolf!). Nothing throughout 13 Hrs points towards lycanthropy and the brief glimpses of the creature give us nothing to connect the dots. The first section of the film introduces us to the characters and they’re all irritable, bland or a combination of the two. Even the heroine has a rather nasty streak to her. There’s no one to root for as they’re continually bitching to each other and this one of the film’s glaring problems. Siding with an unknown enemy against this irritating cast isn’t so good when you’ve made your allegiances within the first ten minutes.
The cast aren’t great but it’s not like they had a lot to work with. Gemma Atkinson has been cast for her physical attributes but must have had a good agent so that she didn’t strip down at any point and show us those attributes. Tom Felton, of Harry Potter fame, also gets a headlining role but it’s hardly the role he needs if he wants to break free of the Draco Malfoy stereotype. It’s also pretty sad that this was the late Simon MacCorkindale’s last film and his cameo role at the beginning is a pitiful way to call time on his career. Though I’m sure Jaws 3-D was never high on his list either.
The creature looks more like a relative to the Crawlers in The Descent with its balding head, lack of body hair and sharp claws. You won’t have a clue what it’s meant to be and the characters assume it’s some rabid animal at first. Red POV shots are banded around to try and make the creature seem scary but it’s hardly on screen long enough to even bother turning it into some sort of major threat. Attack scenes are quickly edited so you have little clue as to what is going on and most of the creature’s bloody rampage happens off-camera. There’s a subplot about a local animal handler who is recruited by the police to respond to the 999 call at the house but this literally becomes a dead end plot which serves no purpose to the film except kill a bit more running time. The plot twist and revelation at the end is also about as shocking as finding out that the Pope is Catholic. It’s signposted almost right from the get-go and is a little too obvious to make the ending anything but unsatisfactory. But when the rest of the film is just as plodding, it’s hardly going to make much difference.
13 Hrs is passable entertainment, no doubt watchable enough for anyone who’s never seen a horror film before but for anyone else, it’s just a film which goes through the motions and makes no qualms about doing that. There is potential here but it’s clear that everyone involved played it as safe as possible. Even the bald werewolf!