13 Eerie is a low-budget monster movie that was filmed in an abandoned zoo just outside of Moose Jaw Saskatchewan. Few films have such humble origins while also striving so earnestly to subvert the tropes of the zombie subgenre. It isn’t a good movie by any definition, but it does have a lot to offer fans of old school slasher films, and indie filmmakers.
13 Eerie uses a unique premise for a horror movie: Six young forensics students have been taken to an abandoned prison island where their professor has placed real corpses around the island so that the students can practice their crime scene investigation skills.
As an American, I’ll just assume that this is exactly how the Canadian educational system works. Regardless of whether or not it’s an accurate representation of the undergrad program at the Moose Jaw Institute of Criminology, it definitely makes a good excuse for getting a bunch of attractive young people into the middle of a forest filled with corpses.
But the medical cadavers aren’t the only dead bodies to worry about. No, the abandoned prison was once the site of secret government experiments. The sort of secret government experiments that result in mutant prisoners AND zombies. Soon enough the gang is beset by flesh-eating ghouls, and the toughest prison gang in all of Saskatchewan.
The plot is silly and riddled with red hearings and plot holes, but this film has heart. In an age when green screens and digital effects are used to compensate for a limited budget, 13 Eerie almost exclusively uses practical effects. It was filmed in the actual middle of nowhere, uses old-fashioned latex gore, and even puts the monsters in full-body monster suits. Older horror fans will find it to be a fun throwback to the old days of the original Evil Dead and Friday the 13th.
The DVD comes with a few extras, but the commentary track is a gem. First time feature Director Lowell Dean and Producer Mark Montague waver between pride and humility throughout the experience. They’re well aware of the failings of the film, but are still obviously proud of getting it completed despite a chaotic production.
Dean remarks that it was his first time working with “Professional actors”, and the two banter about the confusing plot and missing exposition, often assuring the Viewer that unanswered questions will be resolved in a (Very unlikely) prequel that they call “13 Eerier.”
In fact, viewers might even have a better time by going straight to the commentary – something that the commentators repeatedly tell them not to do! It’s a fun experience that ends with a closing debate between Dean and Montague about whether or not anyone is still listening (At least one person was, guys).
13 Eerie is made exclusively for the hardcore horror crowd, and doesn’t have much to appeal to anyone outside of that demographic. It does have some interesting ideas with its basic premise, and horror enthusiasts will probably enjoy the way it combines aspects of “Cabin in the woods” slasher films with zombie virus movies.
13 Eerie is available on DVD April 2nd, the commentary track is a must-hear.