Death Weekend (1976)

(In theaters, June 2008) Pure exploitation film featuring a young woman facing off against one vapid playboy and four disturbed low-lives. It starts promisingly enough, with a surprisingly well-edited racing duel through Ontario dirt roads. It sets up its characters efficiently enough despite the limits of its budget, and provides an intriguing (if well-worn) situation as the hoodlums track down playboy and woman for a weekend of home invasion violence. But the film soon loses control over its own pacing shortly thereafter, as the menace of the invaders is either played for laughs, or never taken seriously by the so-called heroes. Anyone with half a brain would have made attempts to escape: our protagonists stay inert, up to a point where the playboy loses whatever lingering sympathy he might have deserved. It’s a very long second act, and very little happens during the build-up. After that, well, it’s pure familiar stuff: physical assault, followed by utter retribution by the heroine. It ends with a nauseating bit of Stockholm-syndrome flashback. Not much to see here, even by the standards of exploitation cinema.

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