Review by Sean Boelman
Although the supernatural and slasher subgenres of horror have proven to create an effective mix in the past, Mitchell Altieri and Lee Cummings’s Star Light isn’t able to figure out what makes either type of film so thrilling. Still, thanks to admirably hammy performances from the cast, this manages to be mindlessly fun nevertheless.
The movie follows a teen boy and his friends as they find their night of partying disrupted by a pop star on the run and the violent man trying to pursue her. While there is some intrigue in this setup, especially when the supernatural element teased by the marketing material is added to the equation, the story heads in so many directions that it gets overwhelming.
For the first third of the film, it seems like the script is setting itself up to be a slasher, only for it to turn into a home invasion thriller for much of the second act and something different altogether for the finale. Even though there are some good moments in each of these parts, they don’t come together into a cohesive whole.
Perhaps the biggest issue, though, is that the movie’s mythology is quite aggravating. Much of the story is spent building up to a reveal, and when that reveal finally comes in the third act, it is handled in an anticlimactic way. The fact that the film isn’t able to stick the landing will leave viewers frustrated with having had spent so much time in anticipation for such a small payoff.
The weak character development also doesn’t do the movie many favors. The two leads and the antagonist are all interesting, but there is also a smattering of supporting characters that are all quite underwritten. Ultimately, the film likely would have been better off with a two-versus-one scenario as opposed to having a group of archetypes facing the bad guy.
That said, the strong cast does almost save the movie. Cameron Johnson is charming and charismatic as the lead. Scout Taylor-Compton is over-the-top but fun to watch as the alluringly beautiful succubus, and her chemistry with Johnson is excellent. It is Bret Roberts who stands out the most, though, as the cheesily sinister villain.
The film also works rather well visually. Minus a few shots that were understandably restrained by budget, the special effects look surprisingly good. Altieri and Cummings give the movie a retro style, and while it contrasts with the sometimes modern nature of the story, it gives it an enjoyable tone.
Star Light is a bit busy, especially for a B-horror flick, but it’s a lot more inspired and fun than most other entries in the genre. It’s not scary, and it’s rarely gnarly, though there are enough good moments to make it worth a watch.
Star Light hits VOD on August 4.