If you love slasher films then you may be in for a treat with Padraig Reynolds’ 2018 horror movie Open 24 Hours, which should give you some respite from what seems like an influx of paranormal, occult, and found footage films as of late. If perhaps someone like Uwe Boll or Wes Craven had felt inspired after watching Clerks (1994) they might have done something like Open 24 Hours — a female-led slash ’em and ‘smash ’em set in a 24-hour convenience store, with only a couple of customers — and a couple of killers — venturing through its bloody doors.
If there is any movie that Open 24 Hours singularly reminds me of it is I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997) — O24H‘s killer is styled similarly, save for exchanging the hook with various hammers and the killer speaks instead of passing notes, the final girl, Mary (Vanessa Grasse), is a well-endowed brunette like IKWYDLS‘s Julie James who finds herself on the run while the killer slowly pursues her though he is magically fast otherwise, she also has paranoid delusions like Julie James, and O24H has those scenes of help being just out of reach for the victim that are found in IKWYDLS. O24H does everything at least twice as well though, from the story, to acting, to character development, to cinematography, and practical effects, it is a suspenseful and often bloody film that was a lot better than I expected it to be.
Mary is fresh out of prison, once convicted of aiding her ex-boyfriend James (Cole Vigue) of heinous murders and then setting him on fire. She claims he forced her to watch the murders and set him on fire to stop him, and she grapples with PTSD as a result of this experience. She attempts to start her life over by first securing employment, and agrees to an overnight clerk position at a 24-hour convenience store. Her first night on the job begins quietly with training from her coworker Bobby (Brendan Fletcher of Uwe Boll’s Rampage) and barely any customers, however, she begins to be harassed by mysterious phone calls from someone who seems to know about her past. Despite her meds, she is also plagued by frightening delusions of her ex-boyfriend, delusions that begin to blur with reality as Bobby, her only friend, and her parole office go missing. Mary is forced to confront her past and face a night of blood, murder, and mayhem.
I was continually impressed by Vanessa Grasse’s performance as Mary — her journey from being a victim of circumstance to the final girl facing the killer had some emotionally charged character development along the way, giving dramatic weight to the film amongst all of the bloodshed. With Padraig Reynold’s writing and directing, the audience is truly able to experience the paranoia of PTSD through the film’s beautifully shot hallucinations, which made it difficult to distinguish from reality and what is really going on. The only time this film let me down was towards the end once it completely drops the irreality aspect and her hallucinations — if this movie truly wanted to be something special it could have leaned into the PTSD aspect more and made it to where who the killer is, is open to viewers. Also, Reynolds seems to get lazy and ends the film rather abruptly — it is already pretty long at almost 2 hours but it could have taken 5 more minutes to button up the ending that it did choose. However, the predictable ending does not take away from the successes of the film — it just makes this movie more generic, though the first hour of the movie had shown promise that it wouldn’t be.
Open 24 Hours accomplishes some memorably brutal and beautiful shots, the acting performances from every single character were engaging, and all at once, Open 24 Hours bundles gore, love, and psychoses into one thoughtful slasher movie. While it tends to update old clichés, and it is usually a sign to me that a movie will be bad when it opens with a scene from its ending, and furthermore I usually do not appreciate when a film ends in a way that begs a sequel (I believe a sequel should be demanded by the audience, not by the director), overall I still really enjoyed Open 24 Hours. I would actually rather see a prequel of this story, recounting the murderous rampage and relationship between Mary and Bobby. It doesn’t necessarily stand among the greats nor even stands out from the newbies though, it has good production quality and is very entertaining, and so, Open 24 Hours was worth the one watch.
Open 24 Hours will be released to U.S. audiences on August 18th via Blu-ray, DVD, and digital.
Adrienne Reese is a fan of movies - the good, the bad, and the ugly - and came to the horror genre by way of getting over her fear of... everything. Adrienne also writes for the Frida Cinema, and in addition to film enjoys cooking, Minesweeper, and binge-watching Game of Thrones.