Halloween On Hulu 2016 : “The 13th Unit”

Posted: October 16, 2016 in movies
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,


Filmed in an apparently-disused building at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles for a reported $18,000 in 2014 by writer/director Theophilus Lacey, The 13th Unit is something I’d unfortunately not yet previously encountered in my “exploration” of Hulu’s lesser-known horror selections — a genuinely charming and reasonably gripping ultra-low-budgeter that punches much harder than its weight class and actually leaves you saying to yourself “ya know, that was pretty damn fun.”

Oh, sure, this suspenseful little yarn about seven people trapped overnight in a purportedly underground storage facility that houses and honest-to-goodness supernatural demon/beast in its titular 13th unit is hardly revolutionary stuff — and one could argue that The Hoarder exploits more or less the same premise (minus the largely-unseen creature) to greater effect, but shit — for what it is, this unassuming, obviously amateur number isn’t bad at all.


True, each and every actor has their struggles — but the friends and family members of nominal “stars” like John Allen Phillips, Lance Aaron, Aidan Bristow, Rocki DuCharme, Kate Kelly, etc. have no reason whatsoever to cringe when they see their loved ones on screen, much less to hide this away and pretend the whole thing never happened. They all do their best, and most of the time, their best is just fine. The principals involved all manage to  convey a sense of terror with a reasonable amount of believability, at least, and that’s actually more than you can say for many high-profile Hollywood productions with hundreds of times the budget that Lacey has to work with here.

And speaking of Lacey — he comes out of this whole endeavor looking pretty damn good, himself. His script is well-paced and even clever, his use of lighting and other atmospheric elements is confident and effective, and his camerawork is unobtrusive and semi-naturalistic without being actively dull. In short, he proves that he knows his craft, and it’s my sincere hope that a “suit” at Lionsgate or somesuch is paying attention to this film, because this is a guy who definitely deserves a shot at the big time. So, yeah, Mr. Studio Executive — give him a call, please.


Honestly, I can’t think of a single thing wrong with The 13th Unit that some extra time and money wouldn’t fix. It’s not an especially ambitious piece of work in the thematic sense, but that’s okay — too many up-and-coming directors (or would-be up-and-coming directors, at any rate) bite off way more than they can chew and give in to literally every single one of their indulgences that they’re able to get away with. It’s painfully obvious that all of these folks are aiming for bigger things, but they’re going about it in exactly the wrong way — demonstrate that you know the basics first, and maybe next time (or the time after that, or the time after that) you’ll be in a better position to pursue your more lofty goals as an auteur. But let’s be real — don’t try to show that you’re the so-called “next big thing” in Hollywood before you’ve even mastered the fundamentals or you’re going to find yourself well on your way to being the “next big thing” at the fucking shoe store. Guys like Lacey, who pursue a more “long game” strategy, are the ones who have the potential to go far in the business.


So why not say you “were there” — however vicariously — at the beginning of his career? Give The 13th Unit a look, I can promise that you’ll be very glad you did.

  1. Ryan C. (trashfilmguru) says:

    Reblogged this on Through the Shattered Lens.

  2. Victor De Leon says:

    another one added to the queue 😉

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