For some time now, I’ve been debating on whether or not I should give the subscription-based streaming service Shudder a try. With all the various streaming options available, I kept asking myself if it was really worth throwing my money at them. The company has recently begun to release exclusive content, such as Sadako Vs. Kayako and Joe Lynch’s Mayhem. While still very cool, it wasn’t until I heard Ryuhei Kitamura’s Downrange would be debuting on the platform that I decided to spring for it. Kitamura has long been a favorite, so I was anxious to see what he had come up with next.
A group of college kids are carpooling home when they have a blowout in the middle of nowhere. Luckily, they have a spare and should be back on the road shortly, or so they thought. Somewhere out there, a sniper is watching their every move, waiting for the right moment to strike. With no real motive, this ruthless killer begins to pick them off one by one. The kids use the vehicle as cover, but how long can it protect them? As the blood begins to flow, they will have to put their heads together to try and outsmart the expert marksman.
Ryuhei Kitamura has delivered some fantastic films over his 20+ years in the business. Versus was the movie that put him on the map, with a combination of martial arts and horror proving to be a winning combination for the filmmaker. From there, he has done just about everything, however his English language output has been straight up horror. Downrange takes a very simple premise and turns it into an over-the-top survivalist nightmare. Kitamura is a very stylish director and it was a great surprise to see that he has roped in the various techniques he has used over the years and apply it to the film. The cinematography by Matthias Schubert is exceptional and the acting was also pretty solid, even if there were a few awkward moments.
I did take issue with a few things, mostly when logic and reality were completely thrown out the window. Believability in a horror film isn’t always necessary, the suspension of disbelief is always welcome. In this case, a blown tire rolling away and a ridiculous car accident took me out of the moment, though only briefly.
Even with those issues, what sets this apart is the fact we know absolutely nothing about the killer. The idea is more terrifying when the menace has no face, no motive, and just wants to kill. There is also an excessive amount of gore. Gorehounds will rejoice when they see just how much carnage they manage to cram into the picture. The sound design helps to drive this nightmare home. The sound of the bullets ripping through flesh, the bodies hitting the pavement, and the wheezing of a person on the verge of death is unsettling, to say the least.
It is great to see that Kitamura has once again delivered a little gem for us to devour. Check Downrange out on Shudder now!
Here’s more horror on Shudder to check out!