Monday, September 18, 2023

Eye've Had Enough

The Asylum is a film studio with a very particular reputation, but I've often defended their original films. Yes, their more famous mockbusters and sharknados are silly and more often than not, incredibly lazy, but here and there, their fresher low budget productions offer pleasant surprises. 

Hold Your Breath is not such a case.

Quick Plot: Back in the 1950s, a preacher named Van Hausen became a prolific serial killer with a signature move of gouging out his victims' eyeballs. He even manages to pluck out a few more on the day of his execution by electric chair.

In the present day, we meet a batch of impossibly good-looking and even more impossibly brain-damaged young adults reuniting for the first time since high school for a weekend camp trip. I can't possibly be expected to know or care about their names, so henceforth, we'll refer to them as Sun-In Dye Job Guy & His Horny Girlfriend, 

Mean Blonde, Mean Blonde's Nicer Brunette Sister, Tall Guy, Stoner, and Guy Who Looks Like Sun-In Dye Job Guy But Thankfully Wears Glasses.

They're all awful, and I really can't tell if that was intentional. 

The trip takes a turn when they pass a cemetery and Stoner is too busy stoning to heed Mean Blonde's superstitious warning to hold his breath and avoid being possessed by the soul of someone buried inside. So guess what? Stoner gets possessed by the soul of the eye-popping Van Hausen while the rest of the gang is investigating the abandoned prison that hosted his bloody electrocution.

Oh, and by "investigate" I obviously mean that Sun-In Dye Job Guy and His Horny Girlfriend have sex in the prison morgue while Mean Blonde and her Nicer Brunette Sister playfully tie Tall Guy to an electric chair as a storm breaks out. 

I spent the first half of Hold Your Breath hoping it was a self-aware joke, and the second half with the sad understanding that it was indeed a real attempt to make a horror film. An incredibly dumb and more importantly, unpleasant one at that.

We've all seen Shocker. Even the most diehard Wes Craven fan will say Shocker is very, very bad. But by golly, it's Citizen Kane when placed next to Hold Your Breath. 

The young cast is very good-looking. Their characters are jerks, and dull ones at that. The violence is mostly cheap Asylum CGI-based, which looks as bad as you'd expect, until you get to the graveyard finale and watch a floating ghost fight straight out of the Disney's Haunted Mansion ride and realize, "oh, it's even worse than I expected." The highlight for me was the prison morgue sex scene not because it was a prison morgue sex scene but because it was scored by a song called "Hold Your Breath." 

I'm nothing if not easily entertained by the obvious.

High Points
I don't know, I guess I enjoyed a hand mixer to the eyeball kill because sure, why not gouge an eyeball out with a hand mixer

Low Points
As a lifelong horror fan, I'm not one to complain about gratuitous nudity because I simply don't have the Energizer Bunny-esque funnel of energy it would demand, but Mean Blonde's Nicer Sister's murder feels incredibly icky in its topless execution

Lessons Learned
If you're in the middle of nowhere with a guard tower and fence, you're probably near a prison

Selling weed is one way to pay child support

I genuinely did learn that "Dance Hall" was slang for death row, but what Hold Your Breath taught me was that prisons go ahead and manufacture official signs for such a thing

I don't know what anyone can get out of Hold Your Breath. It's mean, ugly, and pretty terrible. But hey, we're horror fans, and for some of us, that kind of description means an automatic queue add. It's on Peacock if you're one of those weirdos. 

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