[THS Review] Open 24 Hours
Open 24 Hours is a no frills slasher that feels like it would have been right at home in the 80s/90s, featuring a protagonist suffering from PTSD and mental health issues. Mary just got out of prison, where she served time for setting her boyfriend on fire. This fact gets brought up a number of times in the film and honestly, it never failed to elicit a giggle from the audience. Anyway, she’s out on parole and is in desperate need of a job. With a felony conviction on her record, it’s difficult. But the owner of a 24 hours gas station decides to take a chance on her, even though he’s a little nervous about her past.
You see, Mary was dating a man who turned out to be a pretty prolific serial killer. He’d kill people when it rained (so the rain could purify their souls…??) and when Mary discovered the truth, he made her watch. And when she couldn’t deal with it anymore, she finally took matters into her own hands and set him on fire.
What I’m saying is that she has a lot of issues. One of them is PTSD. She doesn’t like the rain. She doesn’t like the phone (because he’d call her). She doesn’t like some obscure 50s song because he would play it when he picked a victim. She sees things. Things that aren’t there. Or maybe they are. It’s one of those types of movies.
Her first night of the job, she gets weird phone calls from a woman who keeps asking how long the store is open for. She gets random people coming in, buying things. And then she sees a man in a hooded raincoat, who may or may not be her ex-serial-killer-boyfriend. Who’s badly burnt and supposed to be in prison. At this point, it becomes a slasher, as the person in the raincoat uses a hammer and attacks people that come to the gas station. But is it real, or is it all in Mary’s head?
Honestly, Open 24 Hours was a mixed bag. It doesn’t really bring anything new to the table and, in my opinion, relies too heavily on mental illness as a plot point. When it’s not exploiting these tropes, it’s exploiting slasher tropes. Lots of jump scares, things moving in front of the camera, arms bursting through walls, people showing up where they shouldn’t be. You know the type of scare. It reminds me of some of the slashers I grew up watching in the 80s and early 90s. The tone is also all over the place. Some moments, like Mary’s deadpan of “I set my boyfriend on fire” elicited lots of laughter from the audience. But some moments felt unintentionally funny.
For example, there were multiple moments where Mary, not incapacitated, would crawl along the floor instead of, you know, running. And whenever Mary would answer the phone and it was something unpleasant, the camera would zoom in on her shocked face so much it almost became a parody. Her parole officer is played by Daniel O’Meara and he brings a no-nonsense almost noir detective dispassion to the role. The way he delivered some important lines also elicited groans.
What I appreciated was the way it was filmed. It was, obviously, stylishly shot but also they used a harsh yellow light in multiple scenes that bathed the story is a sickly glow. It added to the overall feel of the film. The acting is decent, but it sometimes felt like different actors were acting in different movies. The villain felt born of the 80s campiness; the serial killer who has some esoteric reason for what he’s doing. And then there’s Mary who’s dealing with a lot of crap and the movie, at times, wants to be an examination of her PTSD and anguish for what she was part of, but also wants to exploit it for cheap scares.
It was a decent slasher and your mileage may vary, depending on your appetite for this type of film. But I’m not sure I’d personally seek this one out.