As personal growth stories go, this one has a pretty high body count.
By Jorge Ignacio Castillo
THE PLOT: An error of judgement turns model teen Kylie Winters (Alysa King) into the school’s pariah. Outside becoming her classmates’ laughingstock and landing in hot water with the faculty, Kylie is belittled by her own mother, utterly disappointed by her behaviour.
Unbeknownst to Kylie, her day is about to get considerably worse. Forced to babysit a couple of tykes at a mansion in the middle of nowhere, the mentally frail girl must battle three delinquents in pig masks and obscure intentions. Pushed to the limit, Kylie must learn to fend for herself, or die trying.
CRITIQUE: Part Degrassi, part You’re Next, Berkshire County has all the marks of a first-time filmmaker. Formally, the movie is fine, but lacks a voice of its own. Most of the film’s beats are preordained: The babysitter in trouble is one of the oldest tales in horror and it takes considerable work to give it a new twist (last time it happened was six years ago with The House of the Devil.) The dialogue is not only perfunctory, but also plain.
The second half of Berkshire County is better. Director Audrey Cummings doesn’t flinch when it comes to the gory stuff, but her efforts are hindered by the predictability of it all. Weirdly, as soon as the identity of Kylie’s antagonist is revealed, immediately becomes the most interesting character of the movie, based on the strength of the performer and the absence of a backstory. I would have liked to know more about this person, and less of Kylie or her suitor/fiend.
· In spite of her character’s inconsistencies (Kylie goes from shrinking violet to Ripley in nanoseconds), Alysa King does a decent job as the troubled teen.
· As location scouting goes, the house where the main event takes place is a find.
· The coda is intriguing, if a bit Halloween II.
· Outside the lead and the main antagonist, the acting gets really dicey. Marcus had me wincing, but not of fear.
· For a band of vindictive criminals, they are awfully careful with breaking any windows.
· Motivation is a problem across the board. Inexplicable and senseless are not the same thing.
RATING (CANADIAN CURVE): **1/2
Berkshire County is now playing in Toronto, Kingston and Calgary.