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Don’t Eat That Jerky!

Movie Review: Exit 33 (2011)
Summary: A psychopath who owns a gas station begins killing women and making them into beef jerky.
Spoilers: none

The provocatively title Exit 33 is a low-budget horror film about a wounded-in-soul gas station attendant named “Ike” (Kane Hodder), who seeks to relive the memories of his lost love by de-eyeing and making beef jerky out of stranded women.

Right off Exit 33, in the middle of nowhere, is Ike’s oddly quaint-looking little station, a run-down place called Last Chance Gas. The rusty, old gas pumps might get comments from customers, but they still work. And if you come inside, you can buy some beef jerky made by Ike himself.

The poor women who are unfortunate enough to be stranded at Ike’s place are not just unlucky. As it turns out, they have a little help getting stranded from Ike himself. By directing them to a special pump that gives out bad fuel, these pretty ladies are soon on the road again, but with inexplicable car trouble a mile or so away. This is where Ike surprises them by bludgeoning them unconscious and dragging them back home to begin the real fun.

“Eva” (Maria Hildreth) and “Dax” (Paul Elia) have a relationship and are preparing to go to a high school reunion with “Angie” (Antoinette Nikprelaj) and “Matt” (Jerry Reid). Matt wants to marry Angie, but has been turned down before and is looking to make a big impression in a fresh proposal. Dax and Eva struggle with nothing but each other and making up after spats with oral sex. Their futures all change the moment they stop for gas at Ike’s.

Exit 33 is a proud horror film that remembers its roots in a story that exists about and for the powers of the dark side. Good horror films end badly, but here, bad isn’t just a term for the side we are supposed to cheer for. It’s what can describe this movie. The film has a few good qualities ransacked by many more bad ones. The bad ones include terrible, loathsome acting, predictable scene action, and an overall poor execution of the script.

Attention to detail is a big problem. Strangely, everyone who comes to Ike’s always fills up their tanks with $20 worth of gas (the movie takes place in 2010, so no way), and no one ever needs change. When Ike goes to slice open the backside of one of his helpless, screaming females with her less than convincing screaming, you can see from several angles that he’s not even touching her.

With or without pipe in hand, Ike has quite a mean right hook. He knocks out every woman he hits with only one sock and they stay out for ages—and always on the first try and with apparently little effort. The men who try to stop him don’t seem to have any better luck. All the girls can do is scream, but that’s not a good idea because that only makes us root for Ike to shut them up faster and takes from the terror of the film.

Exit 33 is knocking on the door of being an out-and-out bad movie—its worst quality being that director Tommy Brunswick can’t count on anyone picking up on anything as subtle as a shot of a reunion invitation or an engagement ring or any simple gesture. The characters must always announce everything for the audience that they are going to do because audiences must be stupid.

So saying things out loud when no one else is around to hear them is par for the course, like: “Canada, here I come!” and “Must be my lucky day!” Such are the only way anyone can communicate in this film. If you want to convey anger, you must scream and curse. If you want to communicate evil, you must stare blankly in one direction.

While aiming to be intense, the film can rarely be appreciated on account of how poorly it is made. There are, however, a few harrowing exemptions.

We have carnage, and symbolic carnage. In the opening and closing scenes, we have hunters rending and cutting deer flesh after a hunt. We get to see them in what look like family photos, like dad bringing home a large bass catch and smiling for a quick picture. These post-hunt scenes are shown in close-up, graphic detail, with body parts pulled aside and torn off, or chopped off with accompanying country music.

The sheets for the mess inside Ike’s garage, the shots of his frequently used tools, and piles of de-fleshed bones are maximally served up in a horror fan’s feast. The ace in the hole is a grueling eye detachment scene that will get even to those big mouths who boast about being able to eat pizza while watching their gore.

In better hands (and with a bigger budget for more re-shoots), this film could have been incredible. The premise is so sick that it begs to live on in the utmost infamy. By the time the credits were rolling, I was in the beginning stages of actual physical sickness. This was gruesome—yes, much to its credit.

But whatever the film accomplished in its fan-catering and progressive (or rather, thematically speaking, digressive) storyline, was cancelled out in its many flaws. There is actually a story here, and one that might foster a question or two. How Ike ends up doing these things is explained.

What he does with these women’s eyes in the end had me even more disturbed. But then, that was the point of the movie, was it not? Exit 33 is neither a success, nor a failure and I absolutely refuse to put a grade on this morbid creation. I walk away. I’m done.

(JH)

Grade: No grade
Rated: No MPAA Rating
Director: Tommy Brunswick
Starring: “Ike” (Kane Hodder), “Angie” (Antoinette Nikprelaj), “Matt” (Jerry Reid), “Eva” (Maria Hildreth), “Dax” (Paul Elia), “Wife” (Virginia Bryant), “Boy” (Christian Koza), “Marla” (April Canning), “Law Man” (Tim Cole)
Genre: Horror
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