Review: Chain Letter (Blu-ray)

2011/02/03 19:47:13 +00:00 | Jonathan James

Chain Letter is out on DVD and Blu-ray this week, but this is a film that arrived at least 10 years too late. Maybe if it had been released around the time Saw was out, or even better, I Know What You Did Last Summer, this film could have been entertaining from death scenes alone. However, when we’ve already seen the entire Saw series, Hostel, and a slew of other slasher/torture horror movies, Chain Letter feels behind the times.

Chain Letter follows the 80s/90s formula of throwing a mysterious killer against a group of high school kids, with the killer picking them off one at a time. The new spin Chain Letter puts on this formula is the message about the dangers of technology, and the idea of being brutally murdered if you don’t forward a chain letter message to five people you know.

Compared to most films of this nature, Chain Letter preaches quite a bit, making sure to tell the audience that by embracing new technology, we are giving up our privacy and allowing for new ways to commit crimes and evil.  Maybe the idea was to scare the audience into believing that the scenario presented in the movie was actually possible, but I felt there were more subtle ways to bring the message across.

The plot leaves much to be desired, but if you are interested in seeing this movie, it isn’t for the plot. As noted above, this sticks pretty closely to the normal slasher formula, but it does add some twists here and there, which I will let you discover for yourself if you choose to see this film.

This film pulls together a cast which you will recognize from a variety of popular films, including Nikki Reed (Twilight Series), Keith David (Platoon, hundreds of movies and voice credits…), Betsy Russell (Saw series), and Brad Dourif (Child’s Play, Halloween remake, 100+ other credits). Although underutilized, the cast does manage to hold your interest more than a cast of unknowns.

While I dislike much of this film, I have to give credit to those responsible for the special effects and kills in the film. They are gory, they are brutal, they are inventive, and the effects are quite well done. If you are obsessed with slasher film kills, this may be a reason for you to check out Chain Letter.

I have watched the Blu-ray edition, which offers the usual visual and audio enhancements that you get from the format, but unfortunately, the disc does not include any extras. This kind of film has a limited fan base and I think it would have been nice for them to include a little extra for them as a bonus for supporting this film. Even though I didn't love the film, I would have been interested in seeing a behind the scenes feature on some of the kills and I’m sure others would have liked a director commentary.

Chain Letter is a film that will probably only be appreciated by the most rabid of slasher fans. This film doesn’t have a lot to offer in terms of plot and this kind of movie has really been done to death over the last 30 years. If you like watching movies just to see the kills, this may offer some temporary enjoyment.

Beyond that, I have difficulty trying to recommend this film. Even if you love the Saw series, you may not enjoy Chain Letter. Obviously, if you don’t like the Saw series at all, I don’t think there is any chance you’ll want to see this film.

A weak film paired with a bare bones DVD/Blu-ray release is not a winning combination and I think this is only going to appeal to the die-hard slasher fan who needs something new to quench their thirst.

Film Score: 1/5 Disc Score: 1/5