All Girls Weekend has been getting a lot of good press lately, mostly due in part to its upcoming July 12th VOD release date. Uncork’d Entertainment, the film’s distributor, sent me a review screener and I jumped at the chance to see this much talked about title. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I think All Girls Weekend ended up as a cross between The Descent and Yellowbrickroad. Whether or not that is a good thing is completely up to you, but read on for my spoiler free review of this movie.
All Girls Weekend is written, directed and produced by Lou Simon, who previously created HazMat in 2013. It was also co-produced by Jeff Burdett and Alan Hanna and features cinematography by William Schweikert. Cast members include Jamie Bernadette (The Bunnyman Massacre, Reel Evil), Katie Carpenter (“Maid to Order”), Gema Calero (Agoraphobia), Sharron Calvin and Karishma Lakhani… And the bear. This movie’s got a bear in it, so he deserves some shine, too.
Synopsis: “Childhood friends try to rekindle their friendship during a weekend in the mountains. Soon the women get lost and now, alone and hungry, they must battle the elements, each other, and an unforeseen force that is determined to stop them from leaving.”
As a group of fans, horror lovers are infatuated with films that feature a group of people going into the woods and dying; and they’re even more infatuated with films that feature something bad happening to women. Sadistic and sexist, yes, but I think the tactic is so popular because society sees women as the heartbeat of the human raise and there’s the ever prevalent theme of female empowerment when the final girl faces down whatever evil creature is standing in her way of survival. With that said, All Girls Weekend has the crucial part of an all female cast, but lacks the other component that horror fans are looking for – the attacking predator that needs to be put down like a bad dog. This is going to be a turn off for some people, because unlike the new movie poster featured above, there are no scantily clad women and no trails of heads on spikes. The poster art is misleading, as is a piece of the synopsis, but for me that does not subtract from the quality of movie or the enjoyment I had watching it. This is because All Girls Weekend is a different kind of scary movie.
I described All Girls Weekend above as a cross between The Descent and Yellowbrickroad because it falls into the category of supreme suspense and psychological terror. It’s similarity to The Descent lies in the deterioration of the friendships as as the stress on the group gets worse and it falls near Yellowbrickroad because there is a supernatural presence following them that is omniscient and invisible. How do you mend friendships when there’s nothing but blame and long held grudges, how do you fight something you don’t even know is there? This is definitely a film you need to watch for the emotional punch, the heartfelt performances and the logical battle of humans versus nature; not for the gore, even though All Girls Weekend has a decent amount of that, too. I think what horror fans will enjoy the most is the open ended-ness of it all – is the supernatural force real or all in the women’s heads, a side effect of stress, being over-tired and hungry and emotionally drained? I sort of got the idea that it was open to interpretation, but I could be wrong here.
Speaking of the supernatural force, the horror doesn’t really begin until the 50 minute mark, so you get a lot of character development, shadiness and inner and outer struggle before the shit hits the fan. What’s great about this is that you get to enjoy the high production value that makes up All Girls Weekend. The powerhouse performances aren’t the only thing to be inspired by. The opening credits were masterful and were a great insight into the hard work put into the movie, a theme that carried through all the way to the very end. As a viewer, you’re treated to a number of beautiful locations in nature, more-so than many other titles in the “people in the woods” category. The locations are highlighted by cinematographer William Schweikert and I need to give Bill a little acknowledgement here for doing such an amazing job. His skills were on point in All Girls Weekend and he really brought out the beautiful of nature during the day and had impeccable lighting design on hand at night. I was blown away by his talent when it mixed with the other departments. Just brilliant camera work and technical work all around.
All Girls Weekend is a female driven story of human verses nature with otherworldy evil lurking on the horizon. Beautifully shot, expertly acted and featuring an ever evolving story of suspense, strife and gore, I was impressed. And it has a bear. Final Score: 7 out of 10.