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Film Review: ‘Do Not Reply’ Mixes Chuckles With Chills

© 2019 Iron Compass Entertainment, LLC.
© 2019 Iron Compass Entertainment, LLC.

Halloween is fast approaching! One of the most exciting parts of the season is watching horror movies, both new and old. When it was heard that a new horror film was coming out and part of it takes place at a Halloween party, excitement was building for a new autumn flick. However, Do Not Reply provides a movie that brushes over the holiday and instead dives into a blend of comedy and killer drama.

Do Not Reply centers around an angsty teenager named Chelsea, played by Party of
Five
’s Amanda Arcuri. When Chelsea meets Brad, played by Twilight’s Jackson
Rathbone
, online, they click rapidly. The two meet at a Halloween party and things
take a sinister turn when he drugs and abducts her. We then follow Chelsea as she is
taken to a house imprisoning her and several other girls as they try to find a way
out.

Arcuri’s lead character is simply not likable, which is a huge blow to the film. For
the first 10 minutes of the movie, we are listening to a track of Chelsea nonstop
complaining in a “you’re ruining my life!” style. After establishing that she is in fact a
whiny teenager who thinks the world is against her, Chelsea is attacked and
kidnapped. However, don’t expect to root for her immediately or feel connected to
her, as the movie does not establish her to be likable at any point. Viewers may
even sigh when she is seen crying and complaining when she is held hostage,
because even though it is finally justified, it is overdone at that point.

© 2019 Iron Compass Entertainment, LLC.

All in all, the first half of the film proves that every single character in this movie is
selfish. This begins with Chelsea’s endless irritations with everyone. It continues
when Chelsea’s friend Mia, played by Santiago’s Ivon Millan, leaves Chelsea alone to
be sexually assaulted. The point is further driven home by showing all of the
captives turning against each other, mainly Alexa & Katie’s Kerri Medders who plays
Meghan in the film. It’s made very clear that it is every man for themselves. Luckily,
as we near the end of the 100-minute runtime, viewers will notice some agreement
between characters that is long overdue.

The best acting in the movie comes from The Politician’s Elise Luthman who
portrays Heather, who is one of the girls held captive. Her performance is seasoned,
not overly dramatic, and makes viewers believe she has been held hostage for three
years. A scene involving cake mix makes us empathize with Heather in the way
Luthman acts and delivers her lines.

Rathbone’s performance of Brad is also impressive, but predominantly during the
second half of the film. The actor is able to be more over-the-top opposed to his
quiet and stern character in the Twilight saga. While at times it is too much and
spurs hilarity instead of worries, his portrayal of a psychopath is enjoyable whether
you’re laughing or cringing.

Directors and writers for this film are father and son Walter Woltosz and Daniel Woltosz. The two own production company Iron Compass Entertainment and have produced numerous short films. For their united directorial debut, this feels like a promising first step. Do Not Reply is a fluent and crafty watch despite issues staying creepy, weird aspects, and laughable dialogue interspersed. It will be interesting to track the two regardless of whether they continue to tackle horror together, or if they decide to dip into other genres.

There are several bizarre elements interjected into Do Not Reply. The Woltosz pair
adds components that may have appeared creepy amidst the writing process, but
lead to uncontrollable giggles whenever brought up. For example, raking the carpet
is a chore that the victims have to perform incessantly. Whenever a character begins
doing so, it’s hard not to snicker. Some may wonder if they are kidnapped solely to
keep up with carpet raking because of its frequency.

© 2019 Iron Compass Entertainment, LLC.

The story as a whole, including its twist, is well rounded by the Woltosz duo. Every
component—though utterly bizarre—are tied together nicely by the ending of the
film. Some may be able to foresee certain aspects long before the credits, but it
doesn’t take away from the creative ideas the twosome imagined. Spectators will
appreciate not having lingering questions or wrestling with plot holes once the
credits roll.

While the main storyline ends nicely, there is a final extraneous clip that ends the
movie. This clip tries to turn the entire movie into a PSA for online safety regarding
teens. While understood in relation to the plot, this also feels unnecessary.
Furthermore, it allows for another moment of laughter as the acting and dialogue is
unrealistic and poorly executed. Leaving viewers with that final memory of the film
was not a clever move, but instead a careless one. Sometimes a horror movie is just
a horror movie, not a soapbox rant on a social issue.

Many will enjoy the time they spend watching this film. There truly is something for
everyone. This film manages to create a fun blend of a spooky movie with a creative
storyline and a chintzy one that will crack you up. While it won’t fulfill your
Halloween dreams of being scared, you are still likely to have a good time. It is
highly recommended to watch Do Not Reply with ample amounts of popcorn, candy,
and friends you can banter with during it.

SCORE: ★★1/2

© 2019 Iron Compass Entertainment, LLC.

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