Club Dread should carry a subtitle: How To Flush A Reputation Down The Toilet In 103 Minutes Or Less. For while the team who brought us 2001's sniggersome Super Troopers (hey, Tarantino loves it) have commendably attempted to broaden their horizons by taking a stab at horror comedy, they've emerged battered and beaten. This is a film with zero scares and even fewer big laughs.
Club Dread's split personality proves fatally schizophrenic, resulting in a movie that's scarily laughable for all the wrong reasons. Super Troopers, flawed as it undoubtedly was, came with moments of genuine ingenuity and memorable madness. Club Dread settles for limp sex gags that would make the Carry On team wince.
The acting and characterisation are uniformly appalling. First and worst are the members of the Broken Lizard comedy troupe (Jay Chandrasekhar, Steve Lemme, Kevin Heffernan, Erik Stolhanske and Paul Soter), all of whom fail to connect to their roles while viciously killing any joke that comes their way. Next and equally hexed is Bill Paxton, who pops up as Club Dread owner and laidback muso Coconut Pete. His embarrassment is so palpable it's embarrassing. And finally we have the women, bringing up the rear as Screaming Sex Object 1, Screaming Sex Object 2, Screaming Sex Object 3... Only Brittany Daniel stands out, the Lizard lads giving her just enough to say and do to merit her own credit. Oversexed Fitness Instructor should do it.
Of course, crap characters make for crap horror, the viewer unwilling to care who dies and who lives. The filmmakers know it, too, choosing to overcome their lack of tension in the most lazy, time-honoured fashion known to hacks: blaring musical stings. It's almost enough to wake you up. Don't let it. Not unless you want to sit through cyphers meeting the knife as the plot starts twisting off into obligatory "who's the killer?" directions.
Seeing as it's so dull and derelict, Troopers fans should beware: this is a trip to the island of disenchantment.
Shambolic, stupefying and skipworthy, Club Dread is more horrible than horrifying. Looking for humour or quality frights? Look elsewhere.