Calling Shaun Hart’s latest film, Del Playa, controversial would probably be a bit of an understatement. Del Playa bears a striking resemblance to 2014’s awful Isla Vista killings, as they both center around a killer who was scorned by females.
Before we get to my thoughts on the film, here’s the official summary from IMDb:
“Struggling with a horrific past, Claire Rhodes must confront a stalker turned murderer of her youth in order to win back her life – but will her demons help the killer exact his vengeance?”
Starring Devon Barnes as Claire and Brett Johnson as Matthew the killer, the film has an interesting premise. They film starts as Matthew and Claire are in high school, with Matthew being attracted to Claire. Claire has a boyfriend and turns down Matthew. This eventually leads to a fight with Matthew and Claire’s boyfriend, in which Matthew kills Claire’s boyfriend and runs off into the darkness. Fast forward to college, and Claire is still dealing with the memory of Matthew killing her former boyfriend. This is where the problems start with the film. We’re told that Claire is still struggling with the murder, but so much time passes that I couldn’t help but ask a bunch of questions. The biggest question being, whatever happened to Matthew? It’s like he just disappeared and then showed up randomly, ala Michael Myers in Halloween.
So ignoring that hole in time, I continued on with the film, expecting it to be a dark and serious movie. I was thinking that since it resembled the Isla Vista murders, it would have no choice but to be extremely serious. Unfortunately, it never really felt that way. Most of the movie felt like a slasher film, with dialogue that was laughable and kills that were more interesting than any of the characters. The characters never really felt fleshed out, and I never felt like I should care when they were killed off. There’s a scene where a character is taped to a table and killed. I couldn’t even remember what her name was. The characters all felt like they were straight out of an MTV show. It was like I was watching The Hills meets Friday the 13th.
I do want to praise the film, however, for looking as good as it does. The sets are absolutely gorgeous, and I did enjoy looking at the environments the characters were in. The film didn’t look cheap, and it didn’t look lazy. The sorority houses were beautiful, and looked like sorority and fraternity houses I have seen at larger universities. With Del Playa supposed to be taking place at a larger university, it made sense.
I also want to praise the idea of the film. It’s gutsy to make a movie so similar to a real life tragedy. The idea of a scorned teen coming after his love interest is interesting and legitimately frightening. It feels real, and it does happen in the real world. That would be infinitely scarier than a monster under the bed or some other sort of supernatural entity. It’s plausible that this could happen to you.
Ultimately, Del Playa has an interesting story with some gorgeous sets but that’s about it. Unfortunately, it suffers from some plot holes and awful character development. The movie felt like it should have been dark and serious, but it really ended up feeling like a cheesy ’80s slasher film. I wanted to like Del Playa, but the negatives really outweighed the positives this time. Check out the trailer below and let us know what you think! Del Playa is currently available to stream on Amazon Prime.