Sadik 2 (2013)

Review first published by Grolsch FilmWorks

Sadik 2 is a film of two halves (and four discrete headed chapters). In its first half, six young men and women, all with troubled pasts (they know each other from earlier years spent together in a community home) gather in a rented wilderness cabin to usher in the New Year with some drinking, clowning, flirting and movie-watching. This last activity is crucial, as Robin Entreinger’s film is horror about horror, directing its low-budget lens hard at the genre and its viewers – even if it never quite matches the charm of Baghead (2008) or the sophistication of The Cabin In The Woods (2012).

Creepy Kevin (Valentin Bonhomme), a hardcore horror fanatic and the group’s self-appointed master of ceremonies for the weekend, acts as chairman in an ongoing discourse on horror – extolling the virtues of old-school VHS, aggressively decrying the advent of digital (“I’ll make whoever invented Blu-ray eat his own eyes”), proposing that a selection of power tools found nearby be used as props in a DIY slasher short he plans to make, lamenting the malign impact of Twilight on the genre, and debating the merits and demerits of the (fictive) Sadik – “the one with the supposedly real murders”. And in case anyone misses how reflexive all this is, Kevin even takes to wearing the ‘Ghostface’ mask from key Nineties meta-horror Scream (1996).

Opening with a clichéd woodlands slash-and-dash scenario that quickly resolves itself into an innocent snow fight, from the outset Sadik 2 knows that we know the score, and so can toy with our expectations of – and desire for – depravity. As these vacationers lose themselves to drugs and alcohol, engage in cosplay, find their sexual inclinations exposed, confront their pasts, and play other games of identity, the film too keeps questioning just what it might be, with a series of feints and red herrings that leave us unsure where exactly, beyond the video nasties that the co-eds view together at night, the horror might lie.

Yet if at first Sadik 2 follows six Pirandello-esque characters in search of a precise generic form, then in its second half they become awkwardly sidelined and reduced to muted objects, making much of what has preceded seem oddly irrelevant. Now a new crew of characters takes over, advancing the set-up to its grim sequel. As the film changes gears from punkish ensemble dramedy to cruel and cutting horror (and horror satire), and shifts its piercing focus from the reception to the production of horror (with a coda that gives the last word to viewers), a series of unpleasant slayings is executed on screen, delivering what we have wanted all along while also bludgeoning us with its banal, cynical repetition. This section is, despite some gallows humour, kind of boring to watch, which may well be part of the filmmakers’ point. At least the film’s brief duration ensures that the dreary murder set-pieces are not drawn out too long.

Anton Bitel