Written and directed by Chuck Conry of Zombies Don’t Run fame, Morbid is a throwback to the Slasher films of yesteryear, focusing on a small town terrorized by a masked serial killer. Regardless of there being a psycho on the loose, the people of the community, police and all, are more concerned that the high school football team is about to play the biggest game of the season and the star quarterback, Sky Walker, is going to break some big record. Furthermore, a number of local teens forgo their fears of a masked killer and decide to throw a huge after-game party, which makes them all a prime target for a mass murderer. Who will survive the slaughter? The answer may be too MORBID for some of you to comprehend! Sorry.
Morbid opens with a scene featuring two horror fans debating how important Halloween is in the lexicon of horror, with the debate eventually moving to how Black Christmas came first (though, for the record, Silent Night, Bloody Night came before that) and used some of the ideas and techniques that were later made popular by Carpenter’s film. This is actually a fun scene due to the fact that Conry is poking fun at his own movie by also using ideas and techniques found in those films in this opening scene (killer POV, for example). The opening is also a clear indication as to the type of low-budget horror film you’re in for, which is one that is filled with humorously slanted self-referential dialogue made by people who obviously love horror films.
This almost Kevin Smith/Scream inspired approach to the dialogue has some good moments, but seeing as this approach is so common in so many low-budget horror flicks, I can’t help but be a little less than enthusiastic about some of it. The overall humorous tone of Morbid also received a mixed reaction from me, as some of the jokes hit nicely, while a few jokes go on for far too long, especially some of the television spots involving the town sheriff who goes on-and-on about the murder and the big game.
Morbid also drags a bit in the second act, and that plays into some of the jokes that go on longer than they should; however, the ending is when Morbid really picks up the pace and becomes the type of movie I would want from a $500 Slasher flick. Whereas there are no deaths, or even much of a threat, in the second act, the party set finale is when the proverbial shit hits the fan and the slaughter begins, and for me, that’s where a movie of this budget resides most comfortably. The film’s killer ratchets up a number of cheesy but fun death scenes brought to life with enjoyably amateurish make-up effects, and there are even a few ‘very big’ surprises that, for me, are what a movie like Morbid should be.
While the movie runs in at 70 minutes (60 min without credits), it feels longer than it needs to be at times. What would have served Morbid best would be if Conry trimmed the dialogue and tried to do a little more in terms of building some tension. The film needed a little bit of quiet time sprinkled in to balance it out, and again, it’s the middle section that could have benefited by a few POV shots from outside of the party as well as a few establishing shots. Even if they had come out a little hokey, I think it might have helped with the pacing and, for me, a little hokey is welcome.
Morbid is certainly what you’d expect from a movie made by a bunch of horror fans with an estimated budget of $500. I have to give props to Conry for making a film that looks pretty decent. I mean, it’s certainly rudimentary and cheap, which is part of the film’s style, but it does feature a sense of comprehension and competence on a level that many movies of it’s ilk do not posses.
Morbid is likely a movie that some people will get a kick out of just as there will be some people who will hate it, but that’s pretty much the name of the game with this specific type of low-budget horror film. For me, personally, Morbid has its ups and downs, but I commend Conry and his gang of merry men and women for taking the risk and making a film of their own. I know how much work can go into making a horror movie, and one thing I hope that comes from Morbid is that it worked as a good learning process for Conry to make an even better film next time, which I assume would be Morbid 2?!