It's New Year's Eve, and a party is being held at the top of an abandoned building. Shortly after the clock strikes midnight, several guests receive a mysterious text inviting them to another party being held on the 27th floor.

When the curious guests arrive at the party, they find balloons and a table made out like a kid's birthday party.

Each guest has a place-card at the table, with character traits given beneath their names. We have rock singer Wade (Mark Wilson), who the card describes as "Loverboy"; famous TV chef Kathy (Georgia MacKenzie), said to be a "loser"; smartarse womaniser Adam (Adam Rayner) is referred to as "pig"; flirty Nicole (Julia Ballard) is branded "heartless"; sycophantic TV controller Pamela (Joanna Bobin) is accused of being "two-faced". There's also a setting reserved for "our gracious host".

But none of the guests have a clue who that may be.

The group, accompanied by gatecrashers Melanie (Annabelle Wallis) and Nicole's wimpy boyfriend Robert (Pascal Langdale), assume that they are part of a hidden camera show. After all, half of them refer to themselves as "celebrities". In a way, they're right: a hidden camera is observing them.

But when the group sit and the table and start to tuck into the provided birthday cake, they discover the first of many nursery rhyme-type riddles, enticing them to prowl the building's empty corridors in search of clues that will lead them to their host. The group embark on a search for the first clue, and happen across a dark room filled only with balloons and a pig's rotting head. The head has another clue attached to it, and the partygoers split into pairs to resume their search.

Adam, however, loiters behind, distracted by the muffled singing of a child coming from a nearby room. Predictably, by walking into said room he walks into his own protracted demise.

After an even amount of flirting and bickering, the surviving revellers finally find their third clue. It leads them to Adam's corpse, hanging upside down and sporting a pig's snout strapped to the face. The group panic and attempt to escape via the nearest elevator. Unfortunately the elevator locks down before they can get in it and, with all the other partygoers now having left the building, the survivors realise they are alone, trapped in the building with a psychopath. It's a shame no-one can get a signal on their mobile phone either �

The remainder of the film is essentially a succession of slow creeps down dark corridors, irritatingly edited murder set-pieces that owe far too much to the SAW series, and annoying characters that like to raise their voices and swear a lot.

There is admittedly a modicum of tension in one scene where three of the survivors uncover a GPS monitor and fret when it appears that the killer is closing in on them at rapid speed. It's fleeting though, and the rest of the film exhibits a staggering lack of suspense.

Performances are exaggerated to the point of being theatrical, as if the actors had been told to bellow out even the most sedate lines. Not that there's many of them: Luis Camara and Gabrielle Galanter's script is risible (sample lines: "He's (the killer) taunting us". "I hate that". Or what about, "The phone signal's blocked". "What does that mean?". "Someone blocked the phone signals").

At times I was unsure as to whether this was a comedy. But the acting's so poor, you never can tell. Camara's direction keeps the tone dour and so it never feels like it's meant to be taken tongue-in-cheek, until someone opens their mouth.

There's no pace, no fear factor, the gore scenes are mean-spirited but peppered with cut-aways that suggest a lack of courage on Camara's part, and the "twist" ending is laugh-out-loud ridiculous. The killer's explanation for all the preceding bloodshed is, frankly, insultingly dumb.

STEEL TRAP boasts good lighting, attractive colour schemes and a striking killer costume. But that's all I can recommend it for.

The film looks reasonable in this 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer. Most scenes are sharp and bright, although some do display grain. Colours are well-rendered and the presentation is generally a good one.

Audio is provided in English 2.0, and is a problem-free offering. Optional English Hard of Hearing subtitles are also offered.

Static menus don't include a scene-selection menu, but the film does have 13 chapter stops.

A 40-minute Making Of documentary offers a wealth of on-set and pre-production footage, interspersed with cast and crew nods to camera. It's a relatively interesting account of the making of a thoroughly uninvolving film, shot on handheld video. Executive producer Dirk K van den Berg lets the side down though by reading his comments from an offscreen script.

The only other extras on the disc are trailers for THE SPIRIT, SAW 5 and CATACOMBS.

STEEL TRAP is not a good film. It's plagiaristic and, worse, boring. Its characters are dull and clich�d, the script is utter tosh and the horror sequence lack conviction. The acting is atrocious (is this because it's an English-speaking film, made by Europeans? Possibly), and the last five minutes are mind-bogglingly ludicrous.

That's not a recommendation.

Review by Stu Willis

Released by Lions Gate Home Entertainment
Region 2 - PAL
Rated 18
Extras :
see main review