December 3, 2019 Do Not Reply (Movie Review)
Jackson Rathbone gets evil in the new social media themed Horror jaunt Do Not Reply. Iron Compass Entertainment will present the film for a one night only screening in New York at the New York City Horror Film Fest on Friday, December 6, 2019. Fans elsewhere stay tuned for the film’s nationwide release sometime in early 2020. #DeleteYourProfile
Chelsea (Amanda Arcuri: Degrassi: The Next Generation series, Degrassi: Next Class series) is your typical teen girl: arguing with her sister Kristina (Savannah Kennick: Holidays 2016, Arrested Development series), giving her mother (Courtney Henggeler: Big Bang Theory series, Cobra Kai series) a headache, and missing her father who is overseas in the military. After an evening with her oversexed bestie Mia (Ivon Millan: Santiago 2011, Female Fight Squad 2016) and two handsy boys, upset and frustrated Chelsea (“ArmyBrat253”) turns to chatting online with someone she knows only as “VRCowboy.”
Soon, Chelsea and Brad (Rathbone: Twilight 2008, The Last Airbender 2010), aka “VRCowboy,” are making plans to meet at a Halloween party out of town. Shortly thereafter, the teen awakens in a basement chained at the ankle, and that’s when she meets the Sadies—Meagan (Kerri Medders: SEAL Team series, Alexa & Katie series), Heather (Elise Luthman: Dead Night 2017, The Politician series), Tina (Ashlee Füss: American Crime Story series, 2 Broke Girls series), and Victoria (Kaitlyn Black: Hart of Dixie series, Relationship Deli short 2018)—a collection of blonde cheerleaders. Pretty soon it becomes abundantly clear that the sympathetic and kind Brad is simply a front for a sadistic “button-down psychopath” with some serious sister issues!
Clocking in at 98 minutes, Do Not Reply was written and directed by Daniel Woltosz (The Big Time Show series) and Walter Woltosz, and is a feature-length debut for the talented son-father duo. The film also features the acting talents of Nikki Leigh (Del Playa 2017, Silencer 2018); Curran Walters (20th Century Women 2016, Titans series); Christian Hutcherson (Survivor’s Remorse series, Dark series); Kue Lawrence (Beautiful Boy 2018, Good Girls series); and more.
A chilling social commentary and cautionary tale, Do Not Reply is a fictitious story ripped from real-life headlines. With online dating and flirty chatting so prevalent in our society, abductions and sexual assaults have become far too commonplace, and this is a film that utilizes the horrors of our everyday to cast a haunting reminder that not everyone is who they appear to be online. That said, a trigger warning should be noted for sensitive viewers, as this is a story that contains sexual abuse and depictions of violence against women. While not graphic in nature, they are present.
To do this, the film centers around sadistic psychopath Brad, an attractive, well-spoken and equally well-dressed young man who courts naive teen girls online with his smooth performance. Rathbone absolutely dazzles in the worst way possible as the virtual reality-loving, creepy GoPro helmet-wearing, sister-obsessed killer. For reference, there’s an element of Scream’s Billy Loomis in the character: an attractive, unassuming, seemingly normal guy who has that well-disguised psychotic factor. However, for our friend Brad, it’s not very covert. In the role, Rathbone is eerie in his smooth and calm delivery, crafting a character who is equal parts charming and repulsive, alluring and horrifying. There’s a sympathetic element to Brad, as well, one that makes him that much more dangerous.
But this is a film that ultimately revels in its female lead, Arcuri, whose Chelsea refuses to be bleached into submission. With support from the cast’s other talented ladies—Medders, Luthman, Füss, and Black, in particular—she gives an excellent performance as the initially reserved teen who blossoms into a heroine. Though she makes some major mistakes that lead to her captivity, Arcuri’s Chelsea is determined to do whatever it takes to escape Brad’s evil clutches—making her much more than just a helpless victim.
While the idea of a Horror flick based off social media is not entirely unique, and certainly the genre has a bevvy of classic villains with mommy issues, Do Not Reply manages to take these pieces and draft its own uniquely entertaining tale. Cautionary and eerie in its realism, the film utilizes its strengths to haunt you into the thought of deleting your profile. We all know that you are not going to, but taking the ride is still twisted enough to be disturbing. For this, Cryptic Rock give Do Not Reply 4 of 5 stars.