'Rites of Passage' is like 13 different movies all cobbled together into one nonsensical, ridiculous teen getaway slasher movie. These various storylines glom onto each other like particularly viscous mud. It's impossible to separate them, even though you know the movie is made from a variety of different elements that never should have coexisted in the first place.
Some of the more prominent storylines: Benny (Wes Bentley) is a genius turned drug addict who spends his time getting high off of an ancient Indian tea, this causes him to see hallucinations of himself as a Werebear (really); Nathan (Ryan Donowho) is Benny's brother, he has a schoolboy crush on a girl named Dani, but is too timid to do anything about it; Dani (Kate Maberly) has a checkered past with overdoing it with drinking and has recurring nightmares of a horrendous accident she caused while driving drunk; Professor Nash (Stephen Dorff) is a beer-guzzling, student-boinking, six-pack-sporting college professor who's just as cool as his students; Penelope (Briana Evigan) is just a sweet drunk girl looking for a ride home, but instead runs into the Werebear (no, really); there's a couple in the movie who literally are called Moose (Daniel Cudmore) and Squirrel (Angelic Zambrana) for reasons still unknown to me, maybe their parents knew they were always meant for each other; Mojo (Guy Burnet) is a cheeky Australian who is obsessed with an internet porn actress he watches every day; Sandee (Ashley Hinshaw) is that porn actress simply trying to pay her way through college with the extra income. Any one of these characters and their backstories could've been made into a crappy DTV movie, but why not throw them all together just to see what will happen, right?
While the movie might be populated with the craziest cross-section of characters you might ever encounter, the real meat of the story is about Delgado (Christian Slater), a meth-head who talks to an imaginary stuffed monkey named Poncho.
I'm just going to let that sink in.
Now that you've digested that big reveal, let me go on to explain that it's every bit as crazy and stupidly funny as it sounds. I couldn't muster much excitement for this movie and its generic killing of pretty teenagers in gruesome ways, but watching Christian Slater talk to an invisible stuffed monkey with a Mexican accent was something else. Should I have laughed? Probably not. It's beyond stupid. I admit, however, I couldn't help myself.
The whole group of wild college students heads on out to a serene cabin overlooking the ocean. Benny is already there, tripping on his hallucinogenic tea. Delgado is there too, smoking meth and talking to Poncho. When the group arrives they find nothing but death as Benny and Delgado descend upon them in completely separate drug-induced stupors, creating one of the more hectic slasher movie bloodbaths in recent memory. I'm fairly certain that director/writer W. Peter Iliff was just making it up as he went along.
I can't say that I enjoyed 'Rites of Passage' as much as I admired its commitment to complete and utter nonsense. Nowhere, during the movie, does it ever come close to resembling a structured story with meaning and purpose. Instead we watch Christian Slater skulk around, with a shotgun, and grimy teeth talking to a stuffed monkey. If you laughed at that last sentence you may want to give 'Rites of Passage' a whirl.
Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
This Magnet release comes in a standard Blu-ray keepcase, pressed on a 25GB Blu-ray Disc, and coded for Region A use.
'Rites of Passage' suffers from what most DTV low budget movies suffer from when presented in 1080p. It does a few things right, gets a few things wrong, and ends up somewhere in the middle of video presentation mediocrity.
Filmed digitally, the well-lit close-ups feature the most detail. That's where you'll get your HD fix. Stubble, pores, sweat, it's all visible. As the lights dim the picture becomes less clear. Definition is reduced. Edges are blurred. Shadows are flat and crushing. Blacks are flat and depthless. Banding is present in every gradient, especially around light sources at nighttime. Just another example of an average-looking Blu-ray for a low budget production.
The audio is just as forgettable. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix rarely impresses. It has a small job to do and that's what it tries to do. Dialogue isn't always clear. It feels lost amongst the movie's overbearing soundtrack. Rear channels are sparsely used. When they are it's for garish sound effects during wild hallucinations. The effects are over mixed and assaulting rather than inviting.
LFE is finely tuned throughout, though. It's got more than enough time to shine during the more intense moments that call for stereotypical horror soundtrack cues. Nothing jumped out at me while listening to this lossless track. Unsurprisingly there's nothing special about it.
I didn't hate 'Rites of Passage.' It's so over-the-top that it's hard to hate it. There's so much outlandish crap going on during every frame that it's hard not to chuckle. They threw everything at this movie including the kitchen sink. More often than not it doesn't work, but it's kind of morbidly fun to watch them try. It's worth a look if you see it cheap somewhere.