The WTF? Worst Films Extravaganza Presents: A Brush With Death (2007)

Brad Wiebe

Seanna McDonald - Amber
Missy Sturges - Megan
Lily Vu - Samantha
Nikki Cordell - Hillary
Ali Thurlow - Candice
Max Taylor - Caleb
Nicholls Melancon - Rankin
Ted Esquival - Walter
Cody Kinney - Young Ronnie
Scott Chedester - Young Michael

Genre - Horror/Slasher

Running Time - 80 Minutes

Five cheerleaders (Seanna McDonald, Missy Sturges, Lily Vu, Nikki Cordell, and Ali Thurlow) plan on spending the weekend at some deluxe house owned by one of the girl's uncle. Along the way to this rich home, their car breaks down. They meet two mechanics, creepy Walter (Ted Esquival) and his employee, the stuttering Caleb (Max Taylor). After a bit of awkwardness, the car is fixed and the girls are on their way - passing an abandoned, run-down house on the way there.

After the girls settle in and swim in the pool for a while, they meet a local resident named Rankin (
Nicholls Melancon), who is good-looking and charming. During a tame game of Truth or Dare, Rankin tells the girls about the history of the run-down house they had passed. Apparently the people who lived there were murdered and the town sees the house as being haunted. Because they're a bunch of idiots, the girls decide it would be a good idea to spend the night [or at least the last 15 minutes of the film] inside this house because it would be fun to do. Too bad not all the girls will enjoy this activity, as they start dropping like flies one-by-one.


I have three words for A BRUSH WITH DEATH:


- The flashbacks. It was a lot easier to point out the negatives to A BRUSH WITH DEATH rather than the positives. But certain things, like the flashback scenes involving the "haunted" Rue Family Farmhouse in 1954, keep A BRUSH WITH DEATH from being a total BOMB. These scenes [there are like 3 or 4 of them] are genuinely creepy and well-presented with some nice tone and atmosphere. It involves two brothers - one who orders the other around to murder animals and even their own father to prove that the younger brother loves him. While we don't see anything gory or the events that the older brother wants unfolding, just the idea of this sibling relationship is odd and chilling. I also thought the way these scenes were shot [had a brownish tint and shot in different angles] was also effective. I wish the entire film was about this subplot rather than the one that took the most running time. This review for A BRUSH WITH DEATH would be a lot different if that was the case.

- The male actors. I'll get to the lead 'actresses' in a moment. At least the supporting actors make up for what the ladies couldn't bring to the film. Max Taylor, as the slow and stuttering Caleb, was pretty good. I bought his act and he had a hint of sympathy that I liked. Nicholls Melancon was good as the mysterious Rankin. There's something devious about this guy, and Melancon does his best to make that apparent. And the two child actors, Cody Kinney and Scott Chedester, were very good as a young Ronnie and Michael, providing the most [and only] chilling moments in the film. Too bad the ladies couldn't live up to these guys.

Where do I begin?

- False advertising. What I described in the PLOT section is what A BRUSH WITH DEATH is really about. This is what the DVD blurb presents:

Five cheerleaders spend the night in an abandoned farmhouse, and find themselves up against a vengeful ghost.

Ummm...are you shitting me?

For one, these five girls do nothing that would describe them as cheerleaders. They mention it once in passing. Otherwise, these girls could be anything. Sorority sisters. A coven of witches. Prostitutes on their day off. You could never tell these girls were cheerleaders. They don't cheer. They don't practice routines. They don't do anything.

Second, these girls do not spend any night in an abandoned farmhouse. There's discussion about the history of this farmhouse. We even get a few flashbacks about this farmhouse. But the girls never get there until the last 15 minutes of the film, which in turn leads to these girls getting killed one-by-one. So no spending nights anywhere other than a upper class home with a swimming pool. Lame.

And last, but not least, there is nothing in this film that's supernatural. So the "ghost" deal is total B.S. Obviously, the producers of this film wanted to sell this film as something different, and better, than it actually is. I hate false advertising, especially when it raises my expectations for a bad film. Not cool.

- The characters. I already talked about the male actors and their characters, who happen to be the most interesting people in the film. But the female characters are just TERRIBLE. For one, they don't act like cheerleaders. Two, they're all interchangeable with each other in terms of personality. If it wasn't for the different ethnicity and looks of the actresses, I wouldn't have known who was who. And the biggest issue of them all, they're all freaking annoying! They discuss issues that don't matter within the plot itself, instead acting as unnecessary filler. They play Truth or Dare like 7th graders, never getting nude or acting sexual even when there's a good looking guy playing with them and having body shots off their bellies. It also doesn't help that these girls act snobby and don't come across as appealing or likeable at all. Why should I care if they live or die?

Also, I got to make mention to Walter, the creepy mechanic. He comes across as the film's villain [he isn't - which really isn't a spoiler] during his interactions with the girls and flashbacks where he kidnaps young girls and takes photos of them in their underwear. Why he does this is never answered, or even followed through. We see Walter in the beginning and he's gone until the final act, where he returns as a corpse. Great story and character development there!

Seriously, this screenplay wasn't great. It has a generic premise, but a premise that usually works if the script is good enough to give it at least some depth. A BRUSH WITH DEATH doesn't have any of this, so it hurts the acting and the pacing. I feel if this was a short film, it would have been much more successful than it is as a feature.

- The direction. Brad Wiebe isn't the worst director in the world, but he doesn't really create any visual style or excitement either. Besides the flashback scenes with the young children [which I thought were shot really well], everything else is pretty basic and bland. There's no real style, except during certain dream sequences. Wiebe does have a great eye for girls in their bikinis. Cinemax could use his talents. But with all the flashbacks and flash-forwards running concurrently with the present time, the film ends up being either too confusing, or just boring due to its weird pace. The visual style did nothing for me, which is a shame because some style could have made A BRUSH WITH DEATH a more tolerable viewing experience.

- The actresses. I'm not going to name anyone here, but they were all pretty bad. It didn't help that their characters were vapid and the script didn't really allow these actresses to do anything but sunbathe and act bitchy. But most of the time, it sounded like actresses reciting lines and pausing until the other actor recited their line. They never came across as real people for me, which made me not care about them. They mostly looked good, at least. But that can only get you so far unless you're in porn.

A BRUSH WITH DEATH is just a terrible film that had a ton of potential. While certain flashback scenes and the male actors were decent, everything else just brings any positive feelings I could have had for this film down into the WTF? Vault. Bad script, bad acting by the leads, bland direction, and an advertised summary that tries to make the film better than it actually is - A BRUSH WITH DEATH is just a waste of 80 minutes. No wonder that fake vengeful ghost was pissed.

0.5 Howls Outta 4


  1. Sounds bad! Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how I look at it) I dished myself out a film much worse than this a few days ago! haha!

    Cool review!

  2. It must have been a doozy of a film since this one is terrible. Thanks!

  3. Oh, I've seen this garbage film. At least you found something positive about it. Though I will debate about the character of Caleb being any good. The characters consistently refer to him as retarded but all he really does is stutter; as if stuttering = retarded. It felt like a really hateful portrayal of what could have been a half interesting character.

  4. Well, I felt Caleb was the most sympathetic character in the entire film because he seemed forced into his actions rather than being an annoying jerk/creep. And while his character wasn't written as well as he should have been, he was still interesting to me. As for the stutter = retarded deal, it's not too farfetched to believe that others would see him that way due to his speech impediment. It's hateful, sure, but I can buy it when the other characters are assholes.


Related Posts with Thumbnails