Truthfully, “Bad Apples” isn’t a terrible movie even when you consider it’s a shameless rip off of “The Strangers.” It just obviously has a paper thin premise and not much else to do but pad the time. The movie is ninety minutes long and for twenty of those minutes it feels like a relationship drama set on Halloween starring Brea Grant and Graham Skipper as married couple Ella and Robert. She’s trying to adjust to her new house, he’s working his new job, and she’s trying to teach at a school run by an overly religious principal, oh the hilarity. Then it decides to dip in to the horror–eventually.
Ella and Robert just moved in to a new neighborhood where they get to meet their neighbors, all of whom are basically shady, nosey, slime balls. As they attempt to adjust to their new lives, Robert is intent on celebrating Halloween despite Ella’s hesitation. Meanwhile twin sisters donning doll masks begin wreaking havoc around the neighborhood, viciously murdering them one by one. Now they’re at Ella’s door, and are going to give her a very terrifying Halloween night.
There are some movies where you can sense the director is kind of padding time to hit the ninety minute mark, and “Bad Apples” is right in that wheel house. A lot of the movie is scene after scene providing endless exposition on people we know are going to be cannon fodder. Meanwhile a ton of weight is placed on the relationship between Ella and Robert. It’s a good thing that Brea Grant and Graham Skipper are so likable and have great chemistry, or else it’d be pure torture. They have pretty much all of the best scenes in the movie. Coyne’s direction, editing and general sound design (The audio in the “Coda” is god awful) leave a lot to be desired as everything is so poorly lit and framed.
The biggest drawback is that Coyne can never decide what kind of movie he’s making, sadly, as sometimes the narrative dabbles in to dark comedy, then becomes a slasher movie, and suddenly transforms in to a home invasion thriller. When it finally embraces the horror element, it’s actually pretty fun and tense, especially with the way Coyne approaches the stalk and slash scenes involving Ella and the pair of masked assailants. “Bad Apples” obviously leads us on a path to some kind of twist or unveiling based on the violent prologue, once we get there it’s kind of an obvious reveal. “Bad Apples” is typical straight to DVD horror fodder that’s worth watching, if only for Grant and Skipper.