Some things will never go out of style. In spite of it roller-coaster popularity, slasher movies are a permanent fixture in horror. Occasionally, they slip out of the mainstream, kept alive by the straight-to-video (and now the VOD) industry. But just like the killers that populate their movies, it’s hard to keep the slasher movie down. And the last few years have seen another resurgence. After a glut of self-aware slashers, we’ve seen high concept slashers recently like Freaky, Happy Death Day, and It Follows. But sometimes all you need is something familiar and cozy. And Padraig Reynolds’ 2020 release, Open 24 Hours, promises just that – a ‘meat and potatoes’ slasher movie.
Just out of prison, Mary desperately needs a new job. With few options and a vigilant parole officer, she takes the only job she can find – a clerk at a 24-hour gas station. But Mary’s past refuses to leave her alone. When she was younger Mary dated James, a man who turned out to be a vicious serial killer. Trapped and alone, Mary stood by and watched as James killed innocent girls. Finally, she fought back, setting James on fire. While she escaped her abusive relationship, James survived and she was convicted for abetting him. Still fighting her inner demons, Mary’s hopes for a fresh start are in a for a long night when her images become more real than she could have ever imagined.
Open 24 Hours Treads Familiar Ground But Does It Well
Long before Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon, Cabin in the Woods, or Scream, the slasher was simple stuff. Clearly, writer and director Padraig Reynolds (Dark Light) was clamoring for old days. There’s little in the way of originality here in Open 24 Hours. Reynolds gives his ‘Final Girl‘ a tragic history, sticks in her in the middle of nowhere, dangles red herrings, and turns up the gore. And there’s not much else to Open 24 Hours. In fact, one has to wonder if Reynolds knew how little with which he had to work. Despite its simplicity, Open 24 Hours pushes close to two hours. Even a couple of improbable twists can’t help this horror flick from getting long in the tooth.
But there’s no disputing that Reynolds pulls off a mostly good slasher movie.
Nevertheless, Open 24 Hours is mostly a fun slasher callback. Certainly, Reynolds could (and should) have cut out at least 15 minutes. After all, this is the kind of movie that works best with your brain turned off. But there’s no disputing that Reynolds pulls off a mostly good slasher movie. First, Mary’s backstory is sufficiently tragic and brutal. Each violent scene packs a punch. Like most slasher movies, Open 24 Hours relies a lot on jump scares. Still Reynolds executes them quite proficiently. In particular, Reynolds takes advantage of Mary’s delusional state to deliver some of the movie’s best scares. No, he never convinces you there isn’t really a killer lurking somewhere. But Reynolds fills these nightmarish voids with images of bleeding toilets and burning bodies shuffling through the rain.
Open 24 Hours Offers Convenient Twists With Good Performances
How much you enjoy Open 24 Hours will depend on your expectations. And it doesn’t hurt if you can shut off your brain for 90 minutes or so. Characters make stupid choices. A lot of stupid choices. And the story hinges entirely on some pretty unlikely events. Moreover, Reynolds double-ending won’t hold up to the slightest scrutiny. But it’s all in the name of stupid fun.
Characters make stupid choices. A lot of stupid choices. And the story hinges entirely on some pretty unlikely events
It also helps that the performances are much better than what you’d topically find in this kind of movie. Given that the movie entirely revolves around her, Vanessa Grasse (Leatherface) does admirably well in the ‘Final Girl’ role again. She convincingly gives vulnerability and resiliency in the role, which is a necessity for the Final Girl. Character actor Emily Tennant (Riverdale) is more charming than the movie arguably deserves. And familiar face Brendan Fletcher (Freddy vs Jason) may be the best part of the movie. Fletcher takes a role that could easily been a stereotype and manages to invest it with some personality.
Open 24 Hours a Straightforward Slasher That Mostly Works
If you’re craving a straightforward slasher movie with none of that winking meta-humour, Open 24 Hours calls back to simpler times. Yes, this is pure slasher in nearly every regard. From the tragic backstory to the improbable twist to the ‘Final Girl, Open 24 Hours doesn’t pretend to be something it’s not. Though it runs a little long, Open 24 Hours offers enough slasher carnage for horror fans. If you go into this one with realistic expectations, you’re likely to walk away mostly satisfied.