Starring: Aly Trasher, Alisha Soper and William Gabriel Grier
Directed by: Travis Greene
Running Time: 82 minutes
Dark Sky Films
Our Score: 2.5 out of 5 stars
How do you begin to describe a movie that basically gives itself away in the title? Here’s the gist: A desert AirBnB will be the site of a get together between young Millennial/Zoomer couples Carrie (Aly Trasher) and Ricky (Eddy Acosta), and Sam (Alisha Soper) and Dwayne (William Gabriel Grier). However, since the couples arrive at different times, they’re greeted by the supposed original AirBnB guests, Boomer/Gen-X couple Richard (Tim Simek) and Liz (Rosanne Limeres). We aren’t sure who is murdered or why the murders are happening, but the film will slowly unravel that aspect after the opening moments when we witness the ax murder of AirBnB host, Jessie (Jenny Tran). We also know eight people die, thanks to the title and the framing narrative of two small town cops, who also used to be lovers, investigating the aftermath. If you’re keeping count at home, that’s nine characters. So at least the film doesn’t give away the one person who lives.
While the promotional material is very clear on who the killers are, the why and who lives is what keeps the movie flowing. The nonlinear storytelling is the greatest aspect of this film, especially since we learn more and more about each character in spellbinding fashion. Unfortunately the film never seems to utilize the horror of its AirBnB aspect. A film like “Barbarian” had me so distrusting of the characters and property in the first 30 minutes while “8 Found Dead” seems to just go, “Oops, double booked,” and seemingly reveals the killers in the first 20 minutes. Despite the flaw of not utilizing its AirBnB premise, my biggest issue with the film as a whole is, was it all worth it?
Like I said, we wonder about why the murders are happening? That’s the biggest question of the film for me, and I’m left wondering if there isn’t a subversive commentary on love, relationships and generational views. Richard and Liz are very blunt, sometimes offensive and possibly swingers. Richard and Liz clearly have relationship issues that were dragged into their professional lives as police officers while Carrie and Ricky and Sam and Dwayne have massive communication issues that feel complicated by technology. While there may be a commentary on relationships, you could also chalk up Richard and Liz to being more comfortable with each other and themselves after years together, as well as a shared demented sense of life and love.
While I wasn’t bored, I could see how people would be bored because so much is given away up front. I don’t want to spoil the film in this review because I’m ultimately recommending it, despite my on the fence view and rating. I think it has enough elements to make it a captivating watch, but I also foresee people losing interest during verbal chess matches between the older couple and the younger couples. The film also teases that this isn’t the first tale of murder associated with couples, which leads me back to, why? The why bugs me and that’s ultimately bogging down a film I did enjoy. If “8 Found Dead” has something rich to say, I wish it was as upfront as the title about it.