Shudder can’t get enough credit for the spicy selection of movies they bring to horror fans, from cult classics and old gems to modern movies and platform-exclusive originals. Shudder Originals tend to be solid more often than not, and even some of the weaker efforts are a good time for horror freaks looking for their belly. Their latest feature, Stay Out Of The F *** Attic, directed by Jerren Laudert, lives up to the title alone. Absent from “F ****”, it sounds like a sleazy shlocker from the late 70s / early 80s. With “F ***” you have to expect a great horror movie – there is both a direct warning and a curse word in the title.
It’s a horror movie, and it can be said a little bit. Stay out of the attic is a disturbingly boring, haunted house creature with a nonsensical Nazi scientist who cannot cause any fright or deliver what the name and the wild plot promise. A four-person writing team made up this story about a trio of ex-con artists who take jobs in a huge old house owned by a creepy old man who turns out to be a Nazi scientist who still conducts inhumane genetic experiments. It sounds exciting in every way, but we get a hollow-act, generically-executed low-budget horror on the assembly line set in an old Victorian house with scary potential that remains shamefully unused.
We open with spooky shots of the mansion, pleasantly reminiscent of something from a scarier movie. Seconds later, you suspect an authentically creepy ride ahead of you.
The movers arrive, already put off by the strange feeling of the upcoming excursion. Schillinger (Michael Francis) is the owner of the sighful Second Chance Moving Company, assisted by his team of fellow ex-cons, Carlos (Bryce Fernelius) and Imani (Morgan Alexandria.)
The trio with a troubled past meets strange elderly homeowner Vern (Michael Flynn,) who speaks with a vague European accent. That can’t be right.
Unlike work, Schillinger, Carlos and Imani are open to the troubled past they grow past. Carlos is a former heroin addict who cares deeply about his daughter. This becomes clear when he brings up his daughter several times within minutes. After Carlos sees a swastika tattoo on him, Schillinger gets honest about his time in the Aryan fraternity, which he had to join in prison for “ protection. ” He passed that, as Imani Carlos assures. Though skeptical, Carlos Schillinger’s former Nazi ways quickly forgives and agrees to keep working for him in the scary old house where they barely do anything. Imani … doesn’t seem to have much of a past?
The crew soon realizes that strange things are happening in the house. Vern breaks into Nazi scientist Shtick, and his “creatures” reveal themselves. Schillinger, Carlos and Imani are now fighting for their lives.
Stay out of the attic seemingly wants to convey a message about growing beyond the blocky past and breaking psychological ties to a hateful ideology, but it also wants to be a feature about exploitation meets creature about a Nazi surgeon who stores his murderous mutants in an attic. The inclusion of the attic in the title is hardly necessary and perhaps misleading, as we don’t see the attic until the end of the movie, and the house where this is set, which is ripe for a paranormal cooler, is hardly used for a saw-like antics on the operating table, standard misty shots in the basement and green-lit bathroom scenes.
My big question is, why use this gigantic, inherently creepy Victorian style if the house isn’t part of any terror? No creepy gimmicks in the hallway. No fear of stairs. In general, no fear.
For the first 20 minutes of Stay out of the attic there is no action apart from the arrival of the crew. Characters melodramatically tell about their troubled past, bump their heads a bit and hardly do any work. This is a rude crew of terrible movers. Fortunately, their dynamics are captivating enough to arouse some slight interest. Dialogue isn’t overly funny or edgy, but the characters are all thoughtful and interesting, darkly layered in their own way, and all in all, a cool bunch of people striving to be better people. Capturing mildly charming chemistry among people with demons is a nice addition to horror, but a chunk of relationship-building exercises, chit-chat and personal revelations shouldn’t make up half of a movie titled Stay out of the F ******* attic, especially if there is no fear or creepiness to be felt during this chunk. I am forced to use the word “chunk”.
You can’t help but get a little frustrated with the time when terror brings itself to light. Unfortunately, a series of run-of-the-mill horror revelations follows. Shock tactics such as grubby hands crawling around corners. Trite tricks like characters discovering bloody teeth. An ineffective needle in the eye that is not jarring and looks weird. The opening speech of the Nazi Doctor monster is disappointing, but once the creature hangs out, it grows on you, on a “I appreciate it that this big guy in bad makeup is here.”
As antics take place, our moving gang members promise to rescue a victim of a Nazi doctor – a shy girl with a siamese teenager, who is really just sad to watch. The actress drags what is visibly a mannequin on her back. Monster action dies in lieu of further operating table followed by brutally violent Nazi assault.
If for some reason you still achieve catharsis by watching Nazi characters get slapped on the silver screen, you might get a kick out of Stay out of the attic‘s devastating home of terrifying effort. What could have been outrageous cheeky fun or a cheeky good time is instead a boring, quintessentially torture horror vehicle. Characters each have their depth, but with very little purpose in this venture “trapped in the fun house of a Nazi surgeon”. Themes of hatred and overcoming demons are treated as ‘hot button’ keywords or character brownie points rather than as underlying forces that drive a story or make an audience think. A compelling backstory for any hero is appreciated, but it’s hard to give when acting across the board equals that of a 1-season teen TV drama on The CW.
Stay out of the attic is a new movie, and one with a snappy, promising concept, but it looks like part of a horror collection of 30 movies you pulled from the $ 5 Walmart bargain bin in 2009. It follows the formula of every fool who is stuck in a house where people are being tortured. The Nazi story is a fun twist, but if you’re not scared, smiling or entertained, what’s the point? Nazi physician Vern might as well have been a psychotic person, but the team of writers had to make him a Nazi so we could force our protagonist Schillinger’s melodramatic tale to grow outside of his ties to the Aryan fraternity and together to work with a diverse moving team. That would be moving if it were wrapped up in a thrilling horror movie, but this knock-off knock-off doesn’t deliver any fright or new ideas. There is reasonable dialogue taking place between a team of characters more interesting than most we see in horror, but who can’t bear a frustratingly dull, unimaginative shocker without jerks. I sum it up as “if Lucio Fulci’s House By The Cemetery was remade with Saw influence, and no good.”
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