Derelict (2017) – movie review

Derelict poster on IMDb

Derelict is the passion project of Cristian and James Broadhurst, two brother who directed the movie together, with Cristian writing the script and James acting in it. The two of them put together some 150.000 Australian dollars – yes, the movie comes from Down Under – to make this slasher flick where a group of three friends end up in an abandoned building, finding themselves trapped and stalked by a masked assailant.

As you could tell from the first lines of this review, Derelict has a simple and done-to-death storyline. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as this concept can provide the audience with a lot of entertainment. Personally, I’m a fan of this type of flicks: they can display some gory killings, put the viewer in the characters’ shoes and provide a sense of claustrophobia.

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The latter is certainly true for Derelict. Even though the movie looks extremely low-budget, the settings and locations are effective. The abandoned building the chose to film most of the scenes serves as a great place for a horror story. This is also enhanced by the great use of lighting: I’m not sure whether the filmmakers fully relied on natural lights or they used professional equipment, but the result is the creation of an environment that feels genuine and creepy.

The acting from the three main characters is also solid and feels natural. It probably helped that most of them were actually amateur and knew each other well in real life, since their interaction flows naturally in most scenes. The characters written for them are paper-thin, but at least never annoying or unlikeable (aside from the moments they were supposed to). The villain of the movie – the killer with gas mask and crowbar – has a very threatening look, and the somewhat mechanic mannerism made him even more terrifying.

However, Derelict does very little with such a potentially great villain: the killer is introduced early on in the film, with a cool first appearance, but after that disappears for large portions of the movie, leaving the other three characters walking around empty corridors and doing basically nothing. This brings to movie to a grinding halt that the filmmakers try to compensate with over dramatic music that truly doesn’t fit: how much better would have been if they shot most of the film without score? It would’ve made their journey much tenser and more terrifying.

Yet, it is very clear that the “confrontation scenes” aren’t choreographed in the slightest, the simply don’t play out well, coming off as goofy and embarrassing rather than goosebumps-inducing. Also, the gore is minimal and the killings happen off screen, betraying what should be the selling point of any decent slasher flick.

Derelict 1

Derelict has also a very poor and lazy script at points, for example when the characters decide to split up for no reason… probably the most played out and stupid horror cliché ever!

Unfortunately, the ending is also a huge let-down and it comes off as pretentious, since it seems to tease a sequel that, most likely, nobody will want to watch.

In the end, I respect any attempt from aspiring filmmakers to go out there and make the effort to create something. Unfortunately, the end product is very unsatisfying and almost lame. The Broadhurst brothers have a long way in front of them, but they should improve their skills while keeping the genuine passion they made this movie with. Check Derelict out if what you read sounds interesting to you, although I would personally advise against it.

Derelict                                   4/10

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