Directed By: Anthony DiBlasi
Written By: David Bond, Rebecca Swan
Dread Central Presents is a new label from Epic Pictures. In 2018 it became one of my obsessions. If there was a new release coming from them, I had to see it. Not because I loved all of the movies that they put out but because they were all interesting in one way or another.
Extremity is a perfect example of what I mean. The basic premise of the film is something that we have all seen a thousand times before. Essentially it’s about a woman who goes to a haunted attraction and then things go a bit sideways. Extremity turns it up a notch by sending the protagonist to an extreme haunt instead of your everyday run of the mill haunted house or theme park attraction. This grabbed my attention immediately because I’m fascinated by the idea of extreme haunts, specifically why people would put themselves through that and whether or not they are safe. To my delight this film explores both of those questions.
When it was released fans almost immediately began pairing Extremity with Haunters: The Art Of The Scare, a documentary which can be found on Netflix. This was so universally touted as the perfect double feature that it’s made it’s way into this review. I don’t want to turn this into a review of Haunters but it’s worth mentioning because it is an in-depth look at the world of extreme haunts and works as a primer if you’re not overly familiar with them. Haunters doesn’t delve into the questions that I’m most interested in, it mainly focuses on the people who operate the haunts.
Back to the movie at hand, the plot is pretty straight forward. Our main character is Allison. She comes from a troubled background that has really affected her adult life and she decides that going through the experience of an extreme haunt could help her leave some of that trauma behind. When she arrives at the starting point of haunt we meet Zach, another customer that she will be going through this ordeal with and the games begin. For a while we follow the two of them as they are put through the physical and psychological paces that extreme haunts seem to be built on. All of this is fun and well executed, there isn’t a strong reliance on jump scares which works in the movie’s favor. Instead it was a lot of me twisting in my seat as I watched them confront situations that I would never in a million years go through. Then things kick up another notch and we start to get some of the twists and turns in the story. This is where Extremity really excels. It leaves you wondering if anyone is who they say they are, what’s real and what isn’t and who should you be rooting for.
The script is well crafted when it comes to these elements. You see some of the questions coming but you’re never really sure what the answers are going to be. If I have a major knock on the film it is that we are given what seems to be a crazy amount of extraneous information. Allison’s backstory is slowly revealed to us in flashbacks as she goes through the haunt and all of that adds to the story and slowly reveals her character. All of the backstory and information that we are given about the people who run the haunt is just too much. A little bit of a behind the scenes peak is nice but I don’t need to know about the one guy’s child support problems or what kind of relationship he has with the people who work for him. There’s even an Asian reporter and cameraman there for some reason. They are completely unnecessary and every moment spent on them is just a moment that I’m not seeing something more interesting.
Director Anthony DiBlasi knows what he is doing. He worked with Clive Barker at Barker’s Midnight Picture Show production company and served as executive producer on a number of films including Midnight Meat Train. He’s had success as a director and he does a wonderful job with Extremity. Hats off to both DiBlasi and cinematographer Scott Winig. The costumes and the locations found in this film lend themselves to some great shots and they make the most of it.
Dana Christina carries the film as Allison. This could not be an easy role to play. Not only was she tasked with delivering all of the psychological and emotional baggage of the character but the physical demands had to be enormous. You never see a crack in her work though. She moves from overwhelmed to devastated to frightened to complete badass without missing a beat. Extremity doesn’t work if she doesn’t make us believe in Allison.
In a lot of ways you get just what you expect from Extremity. It just all happens to be cranked up to 11. There are plenty of twists and turns to keep you guessing and I don’t know that I would call it a happy ending but it certainly is satisfying.