[review by JA Kerswell]
|Hands in the air like we just don't care! Again and again and again in SNEEKWEEK.|
SNEEKWEEK is such a love letter to 90s slashers that Wes Craven’s SCREAM (1996) plays on a TV screen in one scene. A group of rich young graduates head off for a boating weekend only to find a secret from their past catch up with them in the form of a psycho in a silver mask, who has a penchant for power tools. Unfortunately, this waterlogged Dutch effort only comes to life in the last 40 minutes of its nearly two-hour running time.
During a hazing ritual to choose a housemate for a fraternity, young men are made to sit naked in a jacuzzi full of ice water and have their shrinking dicks measured by hooting sorority sisters (!). Despite the protestations of some of the group, Boris (Jord Knotter) insists the final two contestants stay in the not-so-hot-tub and adds even more ice to the mix. This causes Eric (Job Bovelander) - who had the biggest dick by the way - to have a heart attack and drop dead. Merel (Carolien Spoor) insists they call an ambulance - but Boris (who has presumably seen I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER (1997) one too many times ) persuades the group to make it look like an accident and never speak of it again. To keep him quiet, the last remaining one alive in the jacuzzi, Peter (Jonas De Vuyst), is admitted into the fraternity.
Two years later, the group celebrates graduating college with a trip to Sneekweek - the largest sailing event in the Netherlands. They arrive at their luxury, remote rental property to find an ice bucket with the champagne missing. They realise that they don’t know who rented the property because the telephone number in their group chat is unknown. Under duress, Peter says it was him - but later admits to Merel’s boyfriend Thijs (Jelle de Jong) that it wasn’t and he just wanted to impress the group. Later, Merel sees someone in a silver mask and dark clothes hanging around the house one night, but no one believes her.
|Finally someone in a silver mask turns up and breaks up the party in SNEEKWEEK.|
However, somebody with access to a large array of power tools is intent on making this a vacation they will never forget. If they survive it is that is …
SNEEKWEEK looks great. It is stylishly shot and, for the most part, well-acted. Production values aren’t where the film falls down. This lakeside slasher is very nearly sunk by its sputtering pacing and tendency to spend more time than’s necessary on partying college students. Seriously, this film has more shots of people hollering and twerking - beers aloft - on boats than PIRANHA 3D (2010) and PIRANHA 3DD (2012) combined! Just because you can get a large crowd of extras dancing in slo-mo to bad dance music doesn’t mean you should - let alone repeat it what feels like a hundred times in the movie. 108 minutes is already too long for a slasher and these scenes only make it feel like it stretches into a waterlogged eternity.
What could have been a fun, lean slasher movie is left bloated and leaves the first two-thirds of the movie largely suspense-free. Despite the killer’s love of power tools, they aren’t very good with them - with at least two victims surviving with minor injuries (one after being attacked with a buzz saw and another with a nail gun!). The film tries to emulate the jokey-then-serious horror approach of those aforementioned 90s slashers. In that respect, it marginally works. Although it sometimes feels like the makers are laughing at the audience rather than with it. Having one injured female character awoken by a dog pissing on her suggests the makers didn’t have much sympathy for their characters either.
|A killer with a penchant for powertools in this Dutch slasher.|
It is worth sticking around for the last 40 minutes, or so, where the film - shorn of its hollering party boys and girls - actually shifts gears into a fun series of cat-and-mouse scenes. It also wins a few points for adding a lot of red herrings and a myriad of motives to the mix as to who the culprit is. But, by that point, many might have already turned the movie off.
SNEEKWEEK was released to Dutch screens in 2016 in adult and kid-friendly versions to some box office business. Although not enough to warrant a sequel. Holland’s Filmtotaal aptly called it a Nederslasher and drew comparisons with that country’s earlier efforts AMSTERDAMNED (1988) and SL8N8 (2006). They hit the nail on the head with their conclusion: “Just looking at horror classics is not enough to fathom the genre enough to pay a successful tribute to it, unfortunately, Sneekweek illustrates aptly.”
Cutting 20 minutes of glowstick action would certainly help SNEEKWEEK, but its problems go deeper than that.
female: 4 / male: 7
1) Male dies of a heart attack
2) Male found hung
3) Female found wrapped in cling film
4) Female killed with electric saw
5) Male garroted
6) Female found dead with a powerdrill in her back
7) Male has throat slit
8) Male dismembered by propellor blades
9) Male drowned in bucket
10) Male dies in an explosion
11) Female dies in an explosion
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