A review of “Family Property: Backwoods Killing Spree” (2012) by Guest Reviewer Dave Harlequin of Stiff Magazine
Family Property: Backwoods Killing Spree
Written & Directed by Derek Young
A very common staple in modern culture, particularly the horror genre is the “going retro.” One of my all time favorite horror journalists once famously wrote: “I work in the nostalgia business,” and it couldn’t be farther from the truth. Sadly, however, it seems that most modern horror films are the going the “remake” or “reimagining” route as opposed to the true “throwback” route these days. Derek Young and Lloyd Kaufman’s Family Property: Backwoods Killing Spree; which is currently available on DVD, is one such “throwback” horror film.
The story follows a group of kids who break into a seemingly abandoned house looking to throw a “rave” party. What these kids don’t realize, however, is that this house isn’t as abandoned as they thought… because it’s still being watched over by a psychotic killer bent on “protecting the family property”- which was the final wish of his dying father, who was gunned down by police years earlier. Sounds a lot like an old school ’70s horror plot, doesn’t it? That’s kind of the point.
Family Property: Backwoods Killing Spree is shot entirely in old school “grindhouse” style 16mm, or at least it certainly looks like it. In fact, Family Property’s retroactive camerawork is so good, if you’re not careful, you’ll forget you’re watching a new movie. The retro-styled effects are also perfectly acceptable for such a film. Just about the only major problem in the visual department, is the wardrobe/props. Unfortunately, the modern items in the wardrobe really take away from the overall experience. Modern clothing, and modern cars in an otherwise awesome retro look and setting just seem to look cheap, and unfortunately stand as a big testament to the film’s very limited budget.
What also may be directly related to the limited budget is the very poor editing in certain areas. The soundtrack is outstanding, however the abrupt cutaways really distract the viewer. Likewise, many of the cast members put on incredible performances; while others are so bad in their delivery it’s frankly painful. To put it bluntly, you can definitely tell which actors are professionals, and which actors are filmmaker friends/family. It’s a real shame too, because the script and concept are both excellent, and the story is definitely there. This is exactly why solid backing is so important, especially in horror. All that said, do keep in mind that the version I saw was a rough-cut advance screener, so many of the film’s problems may be fixed in post… I’m simply going on what I was given here. Upon getting new mass-market distribution for the film, it (perhaps tongue-in-cheek, perhaps not) touts itself as being “the worst film ever made” – though I (and likely all of us here at Cinema Slasher) can definitely tell you (in my humble opinion, of course) that this is NOT true… I have sat through way, WAY worse!!
Overall, Family Property: Backwoods Killing Spree is what it is, lots of potential with a few big missed opportunities. It’s not perfect by any stretch, but it’s also very impressive for a no-budget debut feature. Definitely worth checking out and giving a shot, just keep in mind the extremely limited budget, and try to overlook the economic shortcomings.
- Dave Harlequin