Opening on-screen text advises that over 100,000 people go missing in underground rail stations each year. Disarmingly, we're told that "the adults are never looked for".

Then, following a brief establishing murder scene - some woman falling foul of unseen grunting assailants late at night in the subway - we meet Mike (Kip Pardue). He's stood outside a New York strip club at 3.29am speaking to devoted fianc�e Claire (Rachel Oliva) on his mobile telephone, when suddenly his wild brother Tony (Breckin Meyer) and mates are thrown out of the club.

By this point in the night (or morning), Mike is ready to call an end to his bachelor party. But Tony, along with mates Carl (Scott Adkins) and Joe (Karl Geary), persuade him to carry on to another all-night drinking establishment.

They rush to the subway and hurry onto a quiet train moments before it pulls away. By chance, they end up in the same carriage as Michelle (Sarah Barrand), a stripper from the club they've just been evicted from. She's on her way home with reserved friend Brita (Vinessa Shaw).

Tony approaches the women in the hope of getting lucky, while Mike confides in Joe that he's not willing to have the volatile Tony as his best man. The heart-to-heart is interrupted when Tony upsets the girls and Brita sprays him in the face with mace.

The train stops and the group take the opportunity to step off the carriage for a breath of fresh air and to tend to Tony. Unfortunately the train then pulls away, leaving the six of them stranded on a platform that clearly hasn't been used in years.

With rats racing around them and darkness looming to the left and to the right, the girls quickly agree to stick with the boys as they resolve to walk through the subway tunnel in search of an exit.

I suppose I don't need to mention this, but I will anyway: there is no mobile telephone network coverage in this particular subway ...

Small-talk and petty squabbling are the order of the day for a short while, but within minutes Carl and Michelle have strayed from the pack to have sex (!) in the dark. Predictably, they are the first to get attacked: Carl suffers a bite from a hooded figure lurking in the shadows before chasing them away. Now, can he and Michelle catch up with the rest of the group to warn them of the dangers awaiting them?

They don't really need to - the group turn a corner and witness the brutal knife slaying of a security guard on another platform. When Tony accidentally makes a noise, the three Neanderthal-looking attackers shine their torches on them and give chase.

And that, essentially, is it. Six rather obnoxious young American types are stuck in a labyrinthine New York subway for the remainder of the film, desperately trying to outrun extras from QUEST FOR FIRE.

As high concept horror films go, this one is successful in so much that it can be described in one line quite nicely: stag night-meets-CREEP. Aside from the stag night angle, there's no novelty factor whatsoever to be gleamed from this relentlessly pedestrian effort.

From the dodgy opening theme music - a riff on Carpenter's HALLOWEEN keyboards with metal guitar accompaniment - through to director Peter A Dowling's corny script, the villains who behave like the bastard cousins of the bad guys from WRONG TURN and THE HILLS HAVE EYES remakes, and the overly familiar scenario (along with CREEP, fans of British horror films from the 1970s will find it impossible not to think of Gary Sherman's DEATH LINE [a.k.a. RAW MEAT]), STAG NIGHT's greatest setback is its complete lack of original ideas.

But it benefits from a good cast, headed by the ever-reliable Pardue (THE WIZARD OF GORE remake) and Meyer - who's better at playing a shit than the twee leads he's been saddled with in the likes of GARFIELD and GHOSTS OF GIRLFRIENDS PAST.

Slick production values and tight editing keep the film visually attractive and well-paced, while Autonomous FX Inc provide the occasionally noteworthy splatter.

But a pervading sense of d�j� vu and the consequent ability to second-guess the action at each plot turn mean that STAG NIGHT is never anything more than moderate, undemanding entertainment.

It would make for a good rental when there's nothing better around, and fulfils its obligation of being a taut if modest manhunt film - albeit almost ruining everything with a rushed, and silly, ending.

Kaleidoscope Entertainment's DVD presents the film uncut in its original aspect ratio, enhanced for 16x9 TV sets. The picture is generally pleasing, with strong blacks and solid colours to boast of. Images are reasonably sharp, flesh tones are accurate and depth perception is clear throughout.

English audio is provided in 2.0 and is a mainly reliable if unremarkable offering. It's clear and clean at all times, but does go freakishly loud on rare occasions.

There were no extras, or even menus, on this early screener disc.

Superior to CREEP (shitty finale notwithstanding) but infinitely less classy than DEATH LINE, STAG NIGHT manages to be pretty humdrum fluff while not being as bad as I'd expected. Expectations were low.

Also available on blu-ray.

Review by Stuart Willis

Released by Showbox Media Group
Region 2 - PAL
Rated 18
Extras :
see main review