20th July 2020 (UK VOD Premiere)
After setting her serial killer boyfriend on fire, a paranoid delusional woman gets a job at an all-night gas station.
Vanessa Grasse, Brendan Fletcher, Cole Vigue
The first script I ever tried to write was a horror about a murderous petrol station clerk whose store was in the middle of nowhere, making his victims easy to dispose of.
I was 15 at the time it didn’t get much further than writing some of the opening scene which I vaguely remember involving a blazing hot day (as all horrors usual start, naturally), a forward tracking shot of half-filled shelves leading towards the counter and a car speeding away. Horrific, right?
Open 24 Hours is the film my idea would be if it had been, y’know, fully developed and not just one of the many crushed pipe dreams I’ve had over the years. There’s a few key differences, but when isn’t there once a movie producer has their hands all over your work?
Okay, I’ll stop taking any credit for this film now. Open 24 Hours follows Mary (Vanessa Grasse; Leatherface) who, fresh out of prison on parole from setting her psychotic ex-boyfriend on fire, is forced to find a job as per the terms of her release. She finds a night position available at a round-the-clock gas station in the tail end of NowhereTown and passes the intensive two-minute training course from daytime employee Bobby (Brendan Fletcher; Leprechaun: Origins) with flying colours. Her former crime has taken a toll on her mental state though. She’s supposedly seeing her gravely injured and badly burned boyfriend everywhere. But what if they aren’t hallucinations?
I watched the film before checking out the below trailer. I’d advise you to do the same. Even at only 46 seconds, it’s spoiler-heavy and isn’t an accurate reflection of the films tone. If slasher horrors are your thing, that should be enough to know Open 24 Hours is worth checking out. It’s a satisfying homage to films contained in its sub-genre, taking the excessive splatter and shock tropes of the 80’s while combining it with the grounded killers found in 90’s flicks such as Scream and the more visually similar I Know What You Did Last Summer.
A particularly nice touch was our hero’s own troubled past. Mary is no angel and her previous misgivings, the small matter of attempted murder of her serial killer ex, is worn on her sleeve. Fortunately, a sensitive and delicate performance by Vanessa Grasse, especially in its opening 40 minutes or so, allows us to feel sympathy for this convicted felon as she jumps at the smallest of noises. She’s clearly on edge and hugely affected by her actions, as any normal human would be. As extreme as her actions were, they were born out of necessity, making her just as vulnerable as if she hadn’t set his world and face on fire. The cast list is remarkably small and to reveal any more would be as spoilerific as watching the trailer, so I’ll just say that Brendan Fletcher – who is no stranger to slashers having starred in 2003’s underappreciated Freddy vs. Jason is fantastic as Bobby, the newfound friend who’s smile could brighten anyone’s day.
Open 24 Hours may be able to boast about the performances found within, but as an overall product it’s very much like a prospective new employee. It impresses in its interview (the set up) to entertain, initially shows promise in its first shift but when it’s got the job, settles with copying off the veterans just to get by. Disappointingly, my interest for Open 24 Hours gradually decreased once it had revealed all its cards. Its killer does not possess any remarkable qualities either, leaving a handful of greatly characters with an inadequate assailant to threaten them.
Fleshed out main character with real flaws
Strong supporting cast
Plenty of initial intrigue
Second half is notably less fun than the first