Milwaukee-made movie Rocky Trails premières tonight at the Oriental
One of our favorite movies of 2009 here at A.V. Club Milwaukee was The House Of The Devil, Ti West’s incredibly ingenious and skillful update of ’80s horror movies. What makes The House Of The Devil so great is that it doesn’t go for cheap laughs at the expense of feathered hair-dos, cuffed jeans, and other signifiers of kitschy Reagan-era fashion. Rather, it takes the building blocks of a disreputable genre and uses them to create something that’s truly frightening.
Unfortunately, writer-director-producer Drew Rosas does the opposite for his debut feature, Rocky Trails, screening tonight at Oriental Theatre. This ’80s-inspired slasher film makes up for its lack of suspense with ironic mustaches, stone-washed jeans, and parodies of cheesy aerobics videos and local newscasts. It still manages to be fairly entertaining, and Rosas clearly knows how to put a movie together, but Rocky Trails belongs in the unfortunate wing of the horror genre where obnoxious teenaged victims end up being less sympathetic than the non-descript killer.
Still, Rocky Trails has enough style and wit to make us curious about what the 28-year-old Rosas—who relocated to Los Angeles last year after living in Milwaukee for eight years—will do next. He’s currently working on a comedy called Wedlocked ’N’ Loaded that he’s been writing for a year, a stark contrast to the three weeks he spent penning the script for Rocky Trails. Proceeds from tonight’s screening will go toward Wedlocked.
For Rocky Trails, Rosas says he decided to make a cheap-looking horror film because it played into the inherent restrictions of the project, which filmed in the Milwaukee area in late 2008. “I knew I would have a small budget and have non-actors, so I wanted to make something that I could succeed at on a small budget,” he said. “A lot of my favorite directors—Sam Raimi, Peter Jackson— got started making just ridiculous horror films.”
Rosas will conduct a Q&A after the screening, and then host an after-party at Vintage Bar, 2203 N. Prospect Ave.