August 24, 2015

VOD Review: The Curse of Downers Grove (2015)
It's hard to believe that Brett Easton Ellis, the guy who wrote American Psycho, Less Than Zero, and The Rules of Attraction, has come to a point in his writing career where he's adapting other writer's novels into Direct-to-DVD fodder, but that is the case.

The novel of Downers Grove seemed to garner enough mixed reviews on its own, but for some reason, someone not only to make it into a movie, but also decided to add a Supernatural Curse subplot to the story, presumably to make it marketable to the Horror crowd?

There are moments of Ellis-like violence, depravity, and twisted machismo throughout the movie, but they are quick flashes that never really hit with the power of his previous works. Instead, The Curse of Downer's Grove is nothing more than a watered-down effort from the once great author, playing more like a confused teen drama than anything else.

Read on.

The small town of Downers Grove is cursed. You see, every year as graduation approaches, a Senior from Downers Grove High School dies in a mysterious way; some get in car accidents, some fall off of water towers, and some OD, but no matter what the cause of death is, a Senior always dies. Forget the fact that a lot of them were drunk and high when they died, because this is a curse!

Chrissie, the class cutie with an old soul, doesn't believe in all of that curse nonsense; she's mature you see, and she has far more important problems to deal with: Her best guy friend likes her, but she likes the bad-boy mechanic at the local garage, and there's another kid, who is the star QB at a rival High School, who she kinda likes too... so yeah, she's obviously got more important things to worry about than some silly curse. Like boys.

After nearly being date-raped by one of those boys at a party, Chrissie injures her would-be attacker, prompting him to go crazy and terrorize her and her friends. Will Chrissie be able to defend herself against such a crazed maniac? Is this all a part of The Curse of Downers Grove? Do all of the kids in this town just run amok, sans adult supervision? Far be it from us to spoil what happens for you here, but suffice it to say that not a lot of this shit makes very much sense in the end, so, don't sweat it.

The Curse of Downer's Grove is a solid little movie about teen life in a small town, and it's also a solid little rape-revenge flick. As far as it being a solid Supernatural Horror movie about a curse though, it's not so hot. So, two out of three ain't bad?

The best thing that Downer's Grove has going for it is its cast. Bella Heathcote did a great job playing the sympathetic and likable lead, and Kevin Zegers was equally convincing as the nut-job bad guy. Lucas Till, Penelope Mitchell, and Martin Spanjers were truly likable in their roles as well. It helps that their characters were well written, but they all did their jobs well. Aside from the whole "curse" aspect, the story was pretty solid in general too. Had they just made the movie a straight-up Teen Terror flick, Downer's Grove could have really shined. It surely had its good moments.

It's the entire "curse" aspect of Downer's Grove is what killed it, mainly because it felt like little more than a cheap ruse that was tacked on to the story for no good reason. Oh, it's mentioned about 150 times throughout, and I suppose that you can look at the movie as a whole and say that everything happened because of the curse, but in the end, the movie was a rape-revenge story that felt like a Lifetime Movie of the Week. All of the curse-related visions, and dreams, and flashbacks seemed to exist only to fill time, as if the producers said "What we've got so far is really good, but we need to stretch things by about 20 minutes or so..."

I mean, the movie does its best to make us think that it's about a curse and all, but it wasn't until the very end, after the whole rape-revenge storyline was over with, that it brought us back to "the curse." It really felt like an afterthought.

And about that ending... what a stupid, shitty twist. The after-credits scene was even worse.

It was also a bit ridiculous that after an attempted rape, an eye-gouging, a bunch of dead dogs dumped on a lawn, plenty of stalking, and multiple threats and assaults, that the local Cops are basically like "Sorry, our hands are tied." In this day and age of Social Media Justice, it's absolutely unbelievable that any Police Force in the Country would be so cavalier about a rape allegation, and the subsequent string of violent acts that are directly related to it.


This movie had a lot of potential, and it delivers on some of it with some strong characters and an interesting story, but ultimately, Downer's Grove gets mired in its lame plot elements and devices, and falls way short of what it could have been. We're glad that we watched it, and we think that fans of 90's style Teen Terror flicks will probably find a lot to like about it, but we really wish that it had been a more even effort overall.


The Curse of Downers Grove is available now on VOD.

The Hotties of Downers Grove: Bella Heathcote and Penelope Mitchell.

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