PHFF 2022 Capsule Review: Stag

As part of Portland Horror Film Festival’s “Horror by Women Double Feature” audiences were introduced to the film Stag. When a woman reaches out to her estranged old best friend, she gets invited to her friend’s bachelorette party. She soon realizes her path to redemption is going to experience some deadly roadblocks.

Written and directed by Alexandra Spieth (Grinding Doubt), Stag is like a low-budget hybrid of Bridesmaids and Midsommar. The plot triggers one of my anxieties: the awkwardness of being around people you don’t know and trying to be polite and likable, often despite the strange and/or bad behavior of those you’re trying to impress. We watch as the protagonist gets put in more and more uncomfortable situations, often appearing to her friend as being the villain when all she’s trying to do is make the best of an uncomfortable situation. Yet in these awkward situations there is a healthy dose of humor to make things more bearable. Stag begs the question, at what point do you stop trying to be polite and stand up for yourself?

While the film has a low-budget look and feel, the filmmakers do a decent job with the tools they are given. Mary Glen Fredrick gives a great performance portraying Jenny in her feature-film debut, making her character both flawed and endearing. Elizabeth Ramos is also wonderful in her acting debut as sweet, innocent Mandy, Jenny’s former best friend and the bride to be. These two performances help to ground the film as the other women give often over-the-top, caricature-like performances for the rest of the bridal party that are sure to bring the laughs. The practical effects might leave something to be desired, but the filmmakers wisely place the focus on the characters rather than the gore.

Stag takes social awkwardness to a new level that is both horrifying and humorous.


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