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Drainiac!   B

Kinetic Image

Year Released: 2000
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Director: Brett Piper
Writer: Brett Piper
Cast: Georgia Hatzis, Alexandra Boylan, Ethan Krasnoo, Samara Doucette, Robert Gordon, Steven Bornstein, Philip Barbour.

Review by Michael Scrutchin

Brett Piper's enjoyably old-fashioned Drainiac! recalls the days when horror films didn't need one bloody murder after another to keep an audience on their toes. Instead of relying on gore and violence (there is some, but it never goes overboard), writer-director Brett Piper crafts a genuinely creepy mood that has faint echoes of the original Evil Dead. The storyline -- involving a ghost that lives in the plumbing of a dirty old house -- is pure cheese, but that's what gives this extremely low-budget outing its special charm.

Our protagonist, Julie (Georgia Hatzis), has been suffering from nightmares ever since her mom died a year ago. Her asshole-of-the-year dad -- who doesn't say or do one semi-nice thing the entire time he's on-screen -- buys an old house so he can fix it up and make some quick cash. He drags Julie out to the boonies and leaves her to clean the house while he flees to "take care of business in town" (translation: go drinking with his buddies).

Luckily, three of her friends meet up with her at the old house. There's Julie's best friend Lisa (Alexandra Boylan), annoying but cute Tanya (Samara Doucette), and your typical teenage guy friend Jake (Ethan Krasnoo). Too bad they were followed by a perverted bully named Wade (Robert Gordon) who causes all sorts of trouble -- he even tickles poor Tanya until she's laughing so hard it hurts! But Wade isn't the only thing they have to worry about -- there's that damn ghost clogging the pipes, remember?

While Drainiac! is fun in a quirky, low-key way, it also succeeds in creating a nightmarish, hallucinatory atmosphere. And although there aren't any extremely bloody scenes, there are a few moments (including a toilet-bowl castration) that may have you squirming. This is a film that relies more on mood and atmosphere than cheap scares -- and it works quite well. The cast is enthusiastic, and there are some witty lines of dialogue scattered throughout.

On a technical note: the dialogue in a few scenes is completely out of synch with the picture. Like I said, this one is really low-budget -- but it also benefits from its low-budget origins. Its production values reminded me of all those bad early-1980s horror movies we knew and loved. In fact, if I didn't know that this movie was made in 1999, I would have easily guessed somewhere around 1983.

In the end, Drainiac! is pretty funny and oddly likable. The climax was a bit too easy, I think, but it left me with a smile on my face. Director Brett Piper deserves kudos for creating a nightmarish mood that still works well with the film's oddball sense of humor. And guys, Drainiac! might also inspire you to stand a little farther away from the toilet the next time you take a whiz.

Review published 05.12.2000.

Follow Michael Scrutchin on Twitter or Letterboxd.

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