Thursday, November 27, 2014



review by AARON ALLEN

Directed by Audrey Cummings
Written by Chris Gamble

Starring Alysa King, Samora Smallwood, Bart Rochon, Aaron Chartrand

On Halloween night, a trio of murderers in pig masks terrorize a teenage babysitter in this by-the-numbers Canadian home invasion thriller. Berkshire County is certainly not so "good to the last oink," as the slogan on the killers' very conspicuous truck exclaims, but it will definitely find something to make you squeal.

Kylie Winters (Alysa King) is having a horrible Halloween. After being pressured by her meat-headed crush (Aaron Chartrand) into giving a blowjob at a party, Kylie now finds herself being bullied and slut-shamed by her schoolmates, parents, and other adults in the community after a video of the act is intentionally leaked. Feeling completely isolated, Kylie takes a babysitting gig on Halloween night at a very large estate out in the boonies. Not too long after she gets the kids off to bed, however, a lone trick-or-treater -- a mute boy in a pig mask -- comes knocking on the door. And he's not alone. Soon Kylie must find the inner strength to survive a home invasion, kidnapping, and torture at the hands of  three diabolical (and not so little) piggies.

These pigs do some huffing and puffing of their own.
Berkshire County is a completely derivative home-invasion slasher that regurgitates elements we've seen before time and time again in the wake of John Carpenter's Halloween, Wes Craven's Scream, and Bryan Bertino's The Strangers. Audiences familiar with these genre films and their copycats will be able to peg exactly where Berkshire County is heading almost beat by beat. Make no mistake, Berkshire County is a certainly a competent copycat that means well, but it doesn't seem to have any real desire to deviate from the How to Make a Generic Horror Movie manual it's been given. There are several moments where it looks like Berkshire County is going to defy expectation or do something rare (especially in the case of its pint-sized pig mask killer), but it always returns safely to its upright and locked position. A little more originality and fewer loud noise jump scares would have been appreciated.

"Hey there Little Red Riding Hood, you sure are looking good..."
That being said, Alysa King as Kylie holds the film together with her conservative portrayal of a young woman in peril. Her character is a great 21st century update to the conventional Final Girl character. Turn on the news and you'll see several high-profile cases of teens who were raped or sexually manipulated and then bullied to the point of suicide because of it. It's a grim, sad reality that too many teens have to deal with in the age of the internet. Putting Kylie in the same position lends a real credibility to her struggle, even as the film drifts into  auto-pilot plot mode. King makes Kylie feel like a real person with true human courage. I've seen a lot of wannabe slasher films full of bland, unmotivated masked tormentors chasing screaming teens, but King's final girl is without a doubt one of the most sympathetic heroines to come around.

Berkshire County will have its Canadian Premiere this Friday, November 28th at the 2014 BLOOD IN THE SNOW CANADIAN FILM FESTIVAL. The first screening is sold-out, but a second screening has been added.

7:00 pm & 9:45 pm
Berkshire County w. Serpent’s Lullaby
November 28th, 2014
The Blood in the Snow Canadian Film Festival
Carlton Cinemas- 20 Carlton St. Toronto, ON.

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