Roost, The (2005)

The Roost (2005)

CAUTION…If They Bite You…Kill Yourself!

Four friends on their way to a wedding on Halloween find themselves stranded at a remote barn. Even worse for them is that the barn is home to a colony of vampire bats that turn anyone they bite into ravenous zombies.

 

There’s a little sub-genre of killer bat films now and the question has to be begged of why? The notion of killer bats shouldn’t really scare anyone and The Roost does it’s damned hardest to back my theory up. It’s clearly made by a bunch of people with a love for the genre. There are plenty of nods to the likes of George A. Romero and the film tries it’s best to turn into one of those low budget straight-to-video cult films of the 80s. However the problem is that these people clearly don’t love the genre that much to leave it alone! There’s been a lot of positive praise for this flick and I watched it with baited breath because a lot of hyped films have failed to deliver. Score The Roost into that column.

Unlike Bats, which was equally as feeble in the scare department, The Roost doesn’t explain the appearance of the flying fiends. In fact not a lot of things are explained or fleshed out. The plot is as flimsy and as basic as it needs to be. The characters are all given some token development early on before the carnage begins. Unfortunately the audience has no emotional connection to this bunch of characters so bland and devoid of individuality and intellect and so the whole affair turns into a long drawn-out saga. We don’t care when one character is turned into a zombie because we don’t know them well enough to give a damn. Maybe it’s because I’m so used to seeing stereotypes and cardboard cut out characters that this group of ordinary teenagers just doesn’t capture anyone’s attention.

The whole story about the bats is padded out by segments about a horror host introducing the film as if it were part of some late-night horror show. Whilst I welcome the addition of creepy-looking character actor Tom Noonan to any flick, the scenes with him introducing the film, appearing during an intermission and then popping up at the end to wrap the film up seem like gross padding. This isn’t some horror anthology that needs a wraparound story to link everything together so I don’t see the need to include these bits, save for the extra few minutes of running time they could tag on. At 80 minutes, it’s already scraping the barrel as much as it can and it feels terribly slow at times. You’d think the director would want to hurry up the talking and searching around and get down to the action as soon as possible. But there’s lots of filler to keep us yawning. If the director was hoping to crank up the tension before he got to the action, then he has surely failed.

One possible solution would have been to cut down the bats story a little bit more (in fact a lot more could have been cut quite easily) and maybe tacked on another short film to make a double feature. It would have at least made more appropriate use of the ‘horror host’ that’s for sure. Noonan gets top billing even though his screen time is minimal but at least it’s a fun rip on those ghastly late-night horror show presenters that try and hype up the terrible film of the week.

The film is eerily shot and the barn at least looks like a decent setting for a horror film with various rooms, levels and places to hide and crawl into. It’s quite dark and in some scenes it’s clear that only the limited natural light available has been used. At least the film looks like it was one of those cheap and nasty straight-to-video flicks that it was aiming to be, complete with grainy shots and sporting a slightly de-colourised look that makes it look like an old VHS that has been watched numerous times from the local video store. The bats themselves are CGI but they’re not really flapping around that much to really worry about. And there’s surprisingly little gore too.

Given that we’ve got zombies as well as vampire bats, the film was aching for a bit more of the red stuff. I guess this is the overriding problem with the film though in that it clearly wanted to be something more than it was meant to be. It takes almost an eternity to get to the bats and by that time, the film is nearly two thirds over. There are few shocks and scares. In the past, horror films tended to go down the gore route when they ran out of scares. It looks like the guys here ran out of money before they could even get started on a route!

 

The Roost is one of the most boring horror films I can safely say I’ve ever seen. It’s a slow, painful and tedious affair that promises plenty but delivers little except false promises. It tries to appeal to fans of old school low budget horror films by going along the same route but they were never this dull. You’re best off going back and watching one of them from the 80s to see how they were properly made.

 

 ★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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