“Old 37″ is a rubberneckers nightmare come true. But be warned, these axles of evil might cost you your head.
In the grand scheme of things, horror fans have evolved into an audience that appreciates the extra effort a film maker takes to not only develop characters, but provide plenty of blood and gore in the process. “Old 37” runs on blood and the tank is never unfilled.
But for all of the gore and terror, the film takes a special approach in that it gives each of its characters good reason for doing what they do. Long gone are the days where a horror movie killer preys on victims for no reason.
Horror fans still want their cookie-cutter casts to go wandering into situations that others wouldn’t dare, but nowadays they want them to have good reason to do so. In that way, “Old 37” is a frightening and effective piece of independent horror cinema.
“Old 37” manages to follow a formula, but embraces the development of character long enough to make you wonder exactly who the victims are in the story. It has a David Lynch feel; bewildering character motivations that are later explained through comprehensive flashbacks. “Old 37” would be a re-hash of clichés, if it weren’t for the expository summaries of character development.
The star in the film’s title is an EMT vehicle that seems to arrive very quickly at the scene of an accident after a victim calls 9-1-1. “Old 37” is a monster driven by madness. One sees the headlights and flashing sirens roll up on the crash site and a sense of relief falls over the injured, but once the paramedics get out of the truck it is clear that they are not there to help, but to cause more damage of their own.
Like “Jaws” on the interstate, the old ambulance preys on injured drivers and hapless victims nearly dead or in shock after crashing their cars. But unlike the Spielberg monster, the vehicle is host to two brothers who drive the beast with their own motivations and neurosis in tow.
Our young heroine Amy, a well-cast and believable Caitlin Harris, is about to begin her life, dreaming of college and escaping the restraints of Bristol County, a town restrained by woods and self-involved middle class teenagers.
Amy lives with her mother, a woman in so much grief after the death of her husband she begins to tramp around town with different men to ease some of the pain. This turns out to be a bad decision further into the film.
But Amy has insecurities of her own, and Brooke (Olivia Alexander), one of the most villainous teenagers I have ever seen in a horror movie makes it a point to constantly berate Amy with words and passive-aggressive dialogue.
A sudden tragedy leaves Amy without her best friend Angel (Brandi Cyrus), deepening her fear of inadequacy and leading her to make a decision to change her physical appearance, all in an attempt to capture the affection of Jordan (Jake Robinson), the town hottie. Amy does manage to capture his attention, but in the process becomes involved in a bad case of mistaken identity.
The strength of “Old 37” is that it is much more than just a horror movie. The film makers do not simply throw the teenage archetypes to the monsters. Each character, including the monsters (Kane Hodder, Bill Moseley) have a unique backstory that explain the motivations behind all of their actions.
Moseley is excellent as the tormented older brother Darryl, left to care for his younger brother Jon Roy (Hodder) after the death of their mother and disappearance of their father. Darryl has not had an easy life, and again the terror of “Old 37” seems to be in its ability to expose the brutality of an abusive world, especially against children by adults.
The two psychotic brothers, following in their father’s footsteps intercept 9-1-1 calls in order to continue the legacy their father left behind. “Don’t worry, I’m a paramedic” is repeated throughout the film as the two pluck accident victims off the street and subject them to a variety of blood soaked tortures.
Hodder dons a very unsettling surgical mask in this movie of which its origins are revealed in a disturbing flashback. Hodder might be the only actor I know that can emote so much feeling without actually saying anything.
With all of its extra effort to engage the audience as to the problems of its characters, “Old 37” fails in some ways due to the amount of them. A useless detective character is blind to evidence literally at his feet.
And the logic of accident victims calling 9-1-1 and connecting with an operator is never fully explained. With such a small town, and so many missing persons one would think a deeper investigation would be underway, starting with the creepy scrap yard boys who happen to have an old, working EMT vehicle parked in their lot.
But these are details that shouldn’t take away your affection for the film. This effort from writer Paul Travers manages to embrace the horror fan and give them something extra. “Old 37” is not a movie defined by the recycling of its parts but is enhanced by the customization of its characters.
Independent horror movies are taking over the genre. The recent and cheered “It Follows” shows that the spectrum of what horror movie fans are willing to accept has changed.
But other films such as the insulting and abysmal “Muck” seem to be holding on to the idea that horror movies and their fans need only nudity and nonsensical violence to succeed. “Old 37” is the natural progression of the two; it drives the center line, keeping with the enjoyments of gore, but rarely does it pass your intelligence along the way.
“Old 37” was chosen as an “Official Selection” to play Montreal ComicCon.
“Old 37” is rated R and stars Kane Hodder, Bill Moseley, Caitlin Harris, Jake Robinson, Sascha Knopf, Olivia Alexander.