by Jed Pressgrove
Critic Cameron Kunzelman called Until Dawn “genre-changing.” I think “genre-degrading” is a more suitable phrase. Until Dawn reflects the mentality that horror movie should mean terrible movie, as opposed to bringing to mind work like Kuroneko, White Dog, and Pan’s Labyrinth. One more time, we’re supposed to be amused by jump scares, false signals, middle-class assholism, and irritating women (sexism, not homage). Until Dawn apes cabin movies, Saw, Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer, and The Descent with no point other than allowing the player a say in character deaths. The Butterfly Effect is cited to suggest unpredictable consequences, but only Rumpelstiltskin wouldn’t be able to figure out that director Will Byles and writers Graham Reznick and Larry Fessenden are doing the approved Telltale Games player-choice dance. Peter Stormare, the best actor in Until Dawn, offers camp that is meme-worthy, not praiseworthy (the latter adjective describes Vincent Price’s superior role in House on Haunted Hill). Impressive animation and sharp integration of quick-time button presses allow Until Dawn to rise above Telltale and its imitators, but let’s face it: a good arcade game has more interesting on-the-fly choices to make than this latest narrative-driven product.