If one word could describe Hell Night, that word would be "pointless". The plot is on the thin side, with Linda Blair and three fellow students spending the night in a potentially haunted house as a sorority initiation. Things begin to go wrong as The Foolish Four find that they are not alone in the house, and it isn't their friends' simple pranks that they are being subjected to, but something decidedly more sinister.

Hell Night sounds like a good teen slasher flick gone wrong and it looks it. Blair rides on the coat tails of success after her Oscar-nominated turn in The Exorcist, but she does little to overcome the myth that child actors don't make good adult actors.

The film looks like an adult version of Scooby-Doo, but without the dog. Expect Old Man Peters to be just around the corner at the sound of every ear-piercing scream.

Without spoiling the ending - not difficult to do - it's sufficient to say that it does not offer any resolution whatsoever. There is no answering questions such as who, what, why, where, when and how? These basic functions of narrative are disregarded in order to show a) a bit of flesh, b) a bit of blood, and c) a character delivering cheesey one-liners at Scream level. And not forgetting the best game of shadow puppets ever to grace the screen, which curiously resembles the Brad/Janet and Rocky sex scenes from The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Another intriguing point is the amount of dramatic tension poured into a scene where one of the cast climbs the classic "locked iron gates" to escape the bogeyman, only to return armed with a gun and slip through a fence round the side! Needless to say, even with his loaded weapon, he still meets his demise and doesn't even tell his fellow companions about this newly discovered escape route.

Is the best thing in the movie pretty boy Jeff (Peter Barton), who must surely be related to Jared Leto, or Smallville's Superman? Sadly it is. But even that doesn't make it worth watching.

Reviewed on: 18 Mar 2002
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Sorority dare goes wrong in haunted house horror.
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Director: Tom DeSimone

Writer: Randolph Feldman

Starring: Linda Blair, Vincent Van Patten, Kevin Brophy, Jenny Neuman, Suki Goodwin, Jimmy Sturtraunt, Peter Barton

Year: 1981

Runtime: 102 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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