Heading yet again into this rather timeworn premise comes Elsewhere, a direct-to-video installment of this overly popular story that is nonetheless and surprisingly in the better half of these awfully familiar tales.
Credit goes to star Anna Kendrick, who plays Sarah, the Nancy Drew wannabe of this small town, and who appears in virtually every scene. Sarah's clean-cut and hard-working, which makes her BFF-class friendship with trashy bad girl Jillian (Tania Raymonde) a surprise. But when Jillian inevitably goes missing, we aren't quite as surprised to see Sarah undertake intense efforts to track down her gal pal -- despite masked strangers, threatening messages, and creepy goings-on at every turn.
Obviously someone doesn't want Jillian to be found, but Sarah finds no help at every turn. Turns out Jillian's been flirting with everyone on the planet on the film's thinly-veiled version of MySpace, and that includes every man in town aged 18 or up. That includes numerous horny teens, and the local cop (apparently running a one-man show). Even Sarah's nerd friend Jasper (Chuck Carter) is interested in Jillian -- and who wouldn't be, considering the bra-and-panties shots she plasters her web page with?
Ultimately, Sarah and Jasper hack Jillian's account, put piece after piece of the puzzle together, and finally track down the killer. Sure, they make a lot of mistakes -- and both of them are nearly killed, multiple times -- as they stumble closer to the truth, but I can't say it isn't watchable. Unfortunately, the perp's ID is pretty obvious from the start. I won't spoil his identity, but I will say I picked him out during the opening credits -- before I knew there was a perp to be IDed at all -- and stuck with him to the end. Yep, no surprise.
Kendrick rises above some predictable material here, but director and longtime cinematographer Nathan Hope does at least infuse the film with some genuine frights and keeps things moving at a clippy pace. He exhibits a good sense of visual design, too (as one would expect from a career DP), effectively combining small town quaint with the ocassional psychedelic freakout. Ultimately, this story is a little too tired to generate all that much enthusiasm, but at least everyone in the cast puts their heart into it.
The DVD and Blu-ray add a commentary track, making-of featurette, and deleted (mainly extended) scenes.
Run time: 106 mins
In Theaters: Thursday 15th January 2009
Budget: $500 thousand
Distributed by: Koch Entertainment
Production compaines: Lost Toys
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
IMDB: 5.6 / 10
Director: Nathan Hope
Producer: Elaine Ehrlich, Vince Palomino, Teresa Zales
Screenwriter: Nathan Hope
Starring: Anna Kendrick as Sarah, Paul Wesley as Billy, Tania Raymonde as Jillian, Olivia Dawn York as Darla Tod, Jeff Daniel Phillips as Officer Berg, Shannon Holt as Patty Melville, Kinna McInroe as Candy, Jon Gries as Mr. Tod, Chuck Carter as Jasper, Dan Flannery as Mr. Palomino, Suzanne Lang as Maureen, Joshua Swanson as Chris
Also starring: Nathan Hope
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