Stag night, buck's party, and bachelor party — they're all the same thing: a final fling for the groom before his wedding and subsequent enslavement to a life of tradition and family. According to legend, the first recorded stag night was held in Sparta sometime in the fifth century (I can see the invitation now: Where? Sparta. When? Fifth Century. Why? Because the Vince Vaughn bromantic comedy spoof of "300" hasn't been made yet).
Stag nights usually involve a few practical jokes, at least one naked party girl dancing, and plenty of drinking. There is little to none of that in Stag Night, a straight-up stalk-and-slay horror film set in an abandoned (but not empty) part of New York's underground subway system.
There is one halfhearted attempt to lead attention astray when one of the characters makes up a story about a giant, supernatural bloodthirsty male deer hunting hapless grooms, but pretty soon you know what you're in for as you strap yourself in for approximately 80 minutes with recognizable but relatively unknown stars Kip Pardue (The Wizard of Gore), Vinessa Shaw (The Hills Have Eyes), and Breckin Meyer (Garfield and Garfield 2). The rest of the cast are totally unknown (at least, to me) but the victims number 4 men and 2 women (equaling 6 stupidos), providing just enough grist for the grisly mill. The grinders are subterranean inbreds with an impressive arsenal and a taste for human flesh. Personally, I think the main bad guy bore a striking (and not-so-scary) resemblance to Rob Zombie circa the Hellbilly Deluxe Tour, but maybe that's just me.
Creep, Death Line, Midnight Meat Train… these horror films set in subways have all succeeded on some level thanks in no small part to the setting. It's inherently scary under the earth, in the dark, and with no way to reach the outside world. The thought of electrified rails, rogue trains, rabid rats and hellish hobos are enough to send most folks scurrying, and Stag Night adds the element of the preternatural, posing a hint or two that the killers are of a different evolutionary breed.
After awhile, the routine wash-rinse-rip-wash cycle gets to be tedious. However, Stag Night isn't altogether bad. It's reasonably brisk in its pacing (Flight Plan screenwriter Peter A. Dowling, bowing as director); the cinematography is pretty in its composition and color palette — but a mess in its wild shakes and delirious pans; and the acting is decent given the dumbness-degree of the characters the cast is resigned to.
Fortunately, there's gore aplenty to keep horror fans from jumping the train. Decapitations and eviscerations are clear favorites of Dowling, who also wrote the screenplay. He explains some of his motivation in the behind-the-scenes featurette, which was shot while the cast and crew was working (meaning, they can't express much in the interviews beyond, "I hope this movies turns out the way I hope!").
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Reviewed by Staci Layne Wilson