The Task

Reality-show contestants in a haunted-house scenario get a lot more scared than the viewer will.

With:
With: Alexandra Staden, Victor McGuire, Sean McConaghy, Adam Rayner, Antonia Campbell-Hughes, Ashley Mulheron, Amara Karan, Tom Payne, Marc Pickering, Texas Battle, Sam Stockman, Mike Johnson, Rob Ostlere, Ataas Srebrev, Jonas Talkington. (English dialogue)

Reality-show contestants in a haunted-house-type scenario get a lot more scared than the viewer will in “The Task.” Director Alex Orwell’s first feature is decently assembled but just doesn’t deliver much in the way of suspense or shocks. It’s part of the After Dark Originals’ weeklong theatrical run starting Jan. 28.

One young man’s street abduction, as he’s thrown into a van with other terrified, bound passengers, proves a ruse — he and the others auditioned months ago for a reality show, and their “kidnapping” announces they’re duly hired. Their task is to stay overnight in an abandoned prison notorious for the dastardly deeds of its Great Depression-era warden, who purportedly still roams the corridors. Playing this game are Gay Guy, Black Guy, Vacuous Blonde, Brainiac Girl and Brit Twit Sibs, while the show’s producers and crew watch via surveillance cameras from a trailer. Rigged frights soon turn to unplanned, fatal ones, however, with the evil dead warden (Victor McGuire) making malevolent appearances. U.S.-set, Bulgaria-shot pic sports adequate production values and performances — those stereotypes aren’t pushed as hard as one initially fears — but could have used more carefully wrought atmosphere and setpieces.

The Task

U.S.-Bulgaria

Production: An After Dark Films release and presentation of an After Dark Films and Signature Entertainment production in association with Midsummer Films. Produced by Moshe Diamant. Executive producers, Courtney Solomon, Stephanie Caleb, Christopher Milburn. Directed by Alex Orwell. Screenplay, Kenny Yakkel.

Crew: Camera (color, HD-to-DV), Emil Topuzov; editor, Daniel Roberts; music, Ernest W. Meinrath; production designer, Valentina Mladenova; set decorator, Krasimir Pashkulev; costume designer, Sonya Despotova. Reviewed on DVD, San Francisco, Jan. 18, 2011. MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 94 MIN.

With: With: Alexandra Staden, Victor McGuire, Sean McConaghy, Adam Rayner, Antonia Campbell-Hughes, Ashley Mulheron, Amara Karan, Tom Payne, Marc Pickering, Texas Battle, Sam Stockman, Mike Johnson, Rob Ostlere, Ataas Srebrev, Jonas Talkington. (English dialogue)

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