There are far too few horror films about America's favorite pasttime: Baseball. I can only think of a handfull of true horror films that deal with the subject, like BLOOD GAMES (1989) and the truly awful THE CATCHER (1998). There have been plenty of thrillers and crime films that use baseball as a major plot point, but not many true horror films. That is, until now. This horror film is a true gorehound's delight and has a pretty good story to go along with it, with an ending that will take you by surprise. We see some unknown psycho watching a tape of a Little League game, while he puts a wooden baseball bat in a vice. He hammers huge nails through it and inserts a large retractable blade at the tip. He then goes to the library to look at some microfiche about a missing man in 1995, who was last seen stumbling out of a tavern drunk as a skunk. We see the drunk guy pissing in an alley, where the psycho, now dressed in an Umpire's uniform complete with mask and deadly altered bat, chases the guy and pulls him from trying to escape under a garage door. He splatters the man's brains with the nail-filled bat, burns a number into his flesh and then uses the blowtorch to burn off his face on a team Little League photo. We then see the psycho use some chain pulley system in an underground room (it will be explained later), while he goes outside and hits a baseball into a lake, while we watch the ball sink to the bottom. We are now in Two Rivers, Wisconsin (filmed on location) in 1996, as tomboy bartender Alison McKenzie (Erin Hammond) notices a young man walk into the bar and order a whiskey on the rocks. It turns out he is Alison's old Little League teammate Bobby Spooner (Marshall Caswell) and they haven't seen each other since they were kids when that unfortunate "accident" happened. Bobby and Alison's old teammates (and lifelong Two Rivers residents) Kyle (Nick Sommer) and Danny (Max Williamson) soon join them at the bar. Both Kyle and Danny are dressed in baseball uniforms because they just got done playing a game in the local Adult League. They reminisce about the old days while purposely avoiding the subject of the "accident". The three guys go to the local ballfield to play a game of hit and catch, making fools of themselves, generally having fun and are soon joined by Alison when she gets off duty. It's apparent that there is some sexual heat between Bobby and Alison, but something hangs above all their heads like a black cloud. None of the four want to talk about it, but it eventually comes out. This is the 15 year anniversary when something really bad happened and Allison mentions that they should have a memorial this weekend for their childhood friends Sam and Jamie, as well as their Coach Fredricks at the Coach's cabin in the woods. But what actually happened to the three? Kyle has a flashback to when he was a kid and he saw his three friends murdered by fellow teammate Billy Haskins (Sebastian Weigman) at the ballfield in 1981, while the police handcuff Billy and take him away (Billy shoved a baseball bat down Coach Fredricks' throat and the other two victims were left in bloody posed positions). The young Kyle screams out, Fuck you, Billy! Fuck you!" as the flashback ends. The Umpire goes back to the library and pulls out some more microfiche, where he reads newspaper stories about Billy Haskins and how he was committed to a mental institution for his brutal murders. We see a bald Billy in his hospital room, grotesque pictures drawn on the wall and he is always crying. The Umpire calls a pizza delivery guy and has him deliver it to the wrong address. Apparently, the pizza delivery guy was also a teammate on that 1981 team, as the Umpire stands in the middle of the road and the pizza guy gets a flat tire trying to avoid him. While he is changing the tire, the Umpire sneaks up behind him and stabs him in the back, the blade protruding out of his stomach, by the homemade deadly baseball bat's retractable blade. He burns a number on the pizza guy's skin (What could that possibly mean? The numbers aren't in any discernible order.) and then uses the blowtorch to burn his face out of the team photo (by the looks of it, the Umpire has already claimed 6 victims). The problem is, none of the victim's bodies are ever found. Our four friends head out to the Coach's cabin, when they stop to play some miniature golf and hit some balls at a batting cage. Danny sees an old guy slapping a young boy behind a building and it triggers a flashback in Danny's mind, where Coach Fredricks (Michael Stansy) is yelling at a young Billy for not getting hit with a pitch and taking "one for the team". Seems like the Coach wasn't such a nice guy after all, especially to Billy. After the flashback, they get into their vehicle and head for the cabin, but someone is following them. Once at the cabin, all four of them see the same team photo that the Umpire is using to burn faces off and Alison has to remind Bobby that he gave her her first kiss there (Bobby doesn't seem to remember). It just happens to be Halloween. so the Umpire walking around in his get-up does not raise any flags. The Umpire's next victim is a housewife (and former 1981 Little League team member) handing out candy, when the Umpire bashes her head in with the bat, burns the number "04" on her chest and blow-torches her face off the team photo. The four friends drive to the Coach's gravesite to pay tribute to him, when they are stopped by a police officer and he ends up hauling Bobby's ass in jail for alleged drunk driving (The officer seems to know Bobby, but Bobby has no idea who he is). Danny walks back to the cabin, while Alison and Kyle find the Coach's grave (they first find a grave with the name "Anita Mint" engraved on it!), but someone has removed his corpse from the grave. Kyle blames Billy, but Alison says he should blame her (There is more to Billy's story that we haven't been told yet.). The guy that was following them enters the cabin carrying a shotgun, so Danny hides under one of the beds. The mysterious man makes a phone call to tell the person that hired him that they are not there right now, but "someone's gonna die", then hangs up the phone and leaves. Danny lights his way under the bed with a Bic, where he sees strange drawings in the underside of the bed, the same type of drawings we saw in Billy's institution room. This could be interpreted as a prime example of child abuse. Bobby is booked and is purposely put in a cell with a crazy person who tries to kill him. What does this officer have against him? Danny finds a bunch of chocolates in Alison's purse when no one returns by daytime and eats them all. When Alison and Kyle return to the cabin a short time later and Alison notices that all the chocolates have been eaten, she freaks out. She tells Kyle that they were "boomers", or chocolate-covered psychedelic mushrooms. A very high Danny cuts the chain to the shed and steals a four-wheeled ATV and goes for a psychedelic joyride. Kyle finds a gun in the truck's glove compartment. Danny has a freak-out scene, which trips another flashback, where he sees Kyle, Bobby and Alison shoving Billy behind the bleachers because he's not a good ballplayer, telling him once again he "screwed up". Is it possible that Billy was being bullied by the four people we have come to know and care about? Danny continues to trip-out and finds an old school bus in the woods, where he has hallucinations of people looking at him and saying he did nothing to stop them. Danny then actually runs into the Umpire and he tries to get away on the ATV, but he is so stoned, he clotheslines himself on a low-hanging tree branch and is knocked off the ATV. Danny hops on the ATV to try to escape again, but it's "Batter up!" as the Umpire beheads Danny with one swing of his bat's blade. The Umpire burns the number "14" on Danny's chest (it's at this time we learn that the numbers burned on the chests correspond with the numbers on their Little League uniforms) and burns his face off the team photo. Want to know what happens to the other three, who the mysterious stranger is and if Billy is actually the Umpire? Well, you'll have to buy the DVD or watch it streaming. Either way, its a unique little horror film about America's pasttime and the denouement comes as a complete surprise for a film that looks like it is going to be the usual DTV slasher film. It's very gory, Alison finally shows her boobs and the story has a satisfying conclusion that nearly everyone won't see coming. There are also other surprises revealed, especially about Kyle and who the mysterious stranger really is. As a matter of fact, there are no loose strings I can think of, one of the first times that has happened to me in a film in a long, long time. Directors/producers/screenwriters Drew Rosas (BLOOD JUNKIE - 2010; who was also the sound editor and has the role of the police officer who arrests Bobby) and Nick Sommer (his first directorial effort; he plays Kyle in the film with a lot of style) keeps the mystery coming and the blood flowing at a rapid pace and the gore goes way past what the MPAA would consider R-Rated. All I will tell you is that nearly everyone is not who they say they are and we learn what the chain pulley system is used for when Alison finds the underground room and accidentally trips it (it's not pretty). I believe that this is the best baseball-themed horror film I have ever seen and, even though it was made with a low budget, the story is high concept. This should please most horror film fans, especially those who were bullied when they were young. The killer's sacrifice at the film's end is especially poignant and there are no end credits stingers like most new DTV films. This is what most horror films should hope to achieve: Give you a good mystery to go along with the gory effects (and all of them here were physical). This is not your typical DTV horror film.
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