Not many straight-to-VOD horror flicks have had a similar anticipation as The Domestics, written and directed by Mike P. Nelson, and starring Tyler Hoechlin (Teen Wolf) and Kate Bosworth (Before I Wake).
This right here is a road/survival horror movie that follows Mark West (Hoechlin) and his wife Nina (Bosworth) as they try to drive over 150 miles to get to Milwaukee, where Nina’s parents live. Theirs is not the average road trip, though, as the two main characters need to drive through post-apocalyptic American streets filled with murderous gangs of killers, psychos, cannibals and rapists.
The Domestics feels a lot like a combination of already-seen material, such as Mad Max: Fury Road (2015), The Warriors (1979) and These Final Hours (2013). Albeit not original at all, the film works as highly entertaining and enjoyable, due to the many killings, the dreadful atmosphere and the great performances by Bosworth and Hoechlin (who proves to be a good actor, beyond stupid teenagers-aimed dramas). The way their relationship develops, the way Nina grows as a person is mesmerising and definitely delightful to experience, since it’s something many horror flicks don’t even give a shit about.
In fact, everybody does a great job in the movie: The Domestics is filled with funny cameos and one-dimensional villains who succeed in doing the job they were set out to do. The gang are genuinely threatening, due to the presence of creepy and insane killers and rapists.
The Domestics is a mildly violent horror flick, not too gruesome – besides a scene towards the end – but not too tame either, which makes for an entertaining experience that should please most of action horror fans. Nevertheless, many scenes feel like wasted opportunities, as the filmmakers could have made them much more brutal and disturbing as opposed to played for fun. Then again, this probably says more about me and my tastes than about the overall merit of the movie.
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Yet, The Domestics utilises a good amount of twists and turns, which give the movie a layer of unpredictability that certainly helps keeping the viewer’s attention throughout the runtime. Besides, there are a few sequences that rely on subtle, dark humour and they actually put a smile on my face and made me chuckle a bit. Had they not been there, the movie would have been much darker, but I guess the filmmakers’ intentions were to design an enjoyable horror flick rather than a disturbing piece of cinema.
However, two scenes in particular are genuinely tense and scary, as the characters imply some disturbing content (without showing any of it). Again, a clever choice that helps the film to be scary without making it too harsh for the average horror fan.
The practical effects represent one more aspect The Domestics is worth praising for. Most of the film shows no CGI and relies on hand-made special effects, with some impressive ones occurring during the last half hour. I struggle to explain why, though, the filmmakers went for CG blood, which looks awful and cheap.
Other than the CG blood and the tiresome story, my other big issue with the film is represented by the overreliance on conveniences. Simply put, there is an excessive amount of lucky occurrences that help Mark and Nina to make it in situations that seemed desperate. This sort of Deus Ex Machina doesn’t work in a movie that uses a somewhat realistic and grounded setting. I know many people won’t care about this aspect and perhaps won’t even notice it… but it did bug me a lot!
All in all, I had a good time watching The Domestics and, to me, the movie is perfectly fine as mindless entertainment. Nothing more, nothing less: nothing wrong with that.
The Domestics 6.5/10