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"The Corridor" directed by Evan Kelly.

It’s one of those “cabin in the woods” things.

The film opens on a disturbing incident in which a group of buddies stumble into the retreat where they’ve been staying and find their best friend’s mom dead on the floor, and their pal (Tyler) freaking out in the closet. He breaks out and goes berserk, cuts some of his buddies, and is ultimately subdued. It is assumed that Tyler witnessed his mother committing suicide and just snapped, hence the weird outburst.

Cut to: 10 years later. Tyler walks through the woods making his way back to the cabin. Upon arrival, he gets rid of his hospital bracelet. Was he released? Or did he escape? His buddies show up, too. They’re older, wiser (kinda), with families (or not), and commitments (or not). A couple of them still bear visible scars from Tyler’s breakdown those years ago. But they’re here to forgive him and get back to the good old days.

The reunion is a dull affair. Lots of male bonding and blatant attempts to highlight the differences in their personalities (the dumb jock has kids, the smart one is infertile, yada yada). Their hijinks include football, rough-housing, and (semi) good-natured teasing.

But then Tyler goes on an outing in the woods and discovers a “box” which later elongates into a corridor. The barriers are nebulous white swirly walls that appear when you enter them and disappear when you step out of them. It makes Tyler’s nose bleed.

Later, when he drags his buddies out to prove to them that the corridor is real, it makes all their noses bleed. It also makes them feel more “alive”. Then somehow they begin to be affected by the corridor even when they aren’t in it. Resentments surface. They turn on each other in gruesome ways.

The corridor in the woods seems to exist solely to mess with people’s heads. It’s never explained either as science fiction or supernatural phenomenon. It’s just there. The “rules” of the corridor change arbitrarily at times, and it’s hinted that this is all going on in Tyler’s mind back at the mental institution – he’s got guilt and whatnot.

But ultimately the film wants you to believe that the corridor was real. The trouble is, the whole thing is just an exercise to have a group of not very interesting guys tear each other to pieces in a cabin. There are two particularly good scares in the film, but neither of them has to do with the boy-men and their feral de-evolution. Both instances of real horror-movie-goodness come from Tyler’s mom, and those moments are not enough to sustain the film.

First-time director Evan Kelly achieves a lot with a small budget and does his best to do something new with the “cabin” sub genre, but the screenplay by Josh MacDonald leaves too many questions unanswered. The role of Tyler is played effectively and with conviction by Stephen Chambers. And James Gilbert (looking like a rugged Bradley Cooper) makes a strong impression and knows what to do with some darkly comic lines.

For horror fans who aren’t sick of the “friends at a cabin” bit yet, “The Corridor” is worth checking out at festivals or when it ultimately makes its way to DVD.

2.5 of 5 stars.

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