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Acts of Death

Directed by Jeff Burton

Written by Jeff Burton, Bill Vincent, Erik E. Hill

Starring Nathaniel Nose, Niki Huey, Finn Wrisley, James Ohngren

Produced by Jeff Burton, Leonard C. McLeod

Rated R

103 minutes


Back to school time means back to school movies, and this one is just in line. Baxter University’s theatre department goes a little too far in the comraderie department, and during an initiation, ends up badly wounding one of its initiates. In true Baxter University Theatre Department style, they run like crazed weasels into the night and leave said initiate to die. Thus, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone that, the next night, the theatre department undergoes radical downsizing with lots of extra blood.

I know…you, much like me, are heaving sighs of exasperation and mild disgust because you’ve heard this sort of thing before. “Popcorn.” “Urban Legend.” “I Know What You Did Last Summer.” Lots and lots of movies about kids getting killed, sometimes accidentally, and their alleged friends running like thieves in the night and then getting killed for it mere hours or even days later. Oh, and one or two at a time, too, and in bloody and / or dramatic fashion.

Oh, and on a minor note—you’d think that Burton and company would’ve known enough about theatre students to know that NO ONE says the name “Macbeth” on a stage. It’s horrible luck; instead, one refers to it as “A Scottish Play.” If Burton were doing it as foreshadowing—which actually would’ve been kinda cool—he should’ve had someone mention that you don’t actually say the name “Macbeth” unless you’re in performance.

But no…instead, “Acts of Death” muddles through ground that was already trampled back in the nineties—“Alas, poor newt…I knew him well, fellatio”?? Careful with that joke! It’s an ANTIQUE! And worse yet, despite having the trail clearly blazed for them, they don’t even follow it very well. It takes almost a third of the movie for our initial victim to get killed and set off the chain of events. Suffice it to say, that’s spectacularly slow. Not to mention almost half the movie goes by before the first other victim gets taken down.

So unoriginal…and slow…and lengthy. These are a combination sure to make a movie that’ll make you eager for your own death just to stop the boredom. I haven’t been this bored watching a horror movie in a long time.

It’s not that “Acts of Death” is all that bad, really, it’s just that it’s very slow, and very predictable. It’s made fairly well—no grainy video or cheesy limb prosthetics or any sudden mannequin swaps or anything like that—it’s just that the result is so incredibly boring that it’s hard to watch.

The ending, I have to admit, does manage to perk things up fairly well, though it’s small relief after having sat around bored stiff for an hour and a half, give or take. And yet, it manages to downright piss me off by introducing brand new plot elements in the last five minutes of film. Dammit anyway, they had a hundred minutes to use and they pick NOW to bring in new plot? SON of a bitch.

The special features include English and Spanish subtitles, and trailers for “Haunted Boat,” “Grim Reaper,” “Dead Clowns,” “Brutal,” and “Mummy Maniac.”

All in all, “Acts of Death” is a wooden yawnfest I wouldn’t inflict on a freshman drama class. A tired premise poorly executed at a speed that makes glaciers look like competitors for the Nextel Cup, “Acts of Death” just isn’t worth watching.

Steve Anderson is a film critic who collects action figures so he can dress them up as his favorite horror villains. He lives somewhere in the United States.

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