Two brothers intercept 911 calls in a beat up old ambulance to torture and kill helpless victims.
The story for Old 37 was literally dreamt up by writer Paul Travis. He awoke terrified from a nightmare that involved him being in a car accident. But instead of being treated with kindness by the emergency services, he had two mad men in a make shift ambulance trying to kill him. As a result Old 37 was born.
So, to truly understand why Travis was so scared, lets set the scene. You are involved in a nasty car accident and your body is a wee bit on the smashed up side. You dial 999 or in this case 911 and ask for assistance. Miraculously, helps comes almost immediately in the form of a wreck of an ambulance called Old 37. As you look up for salvation out steps these two ‘paramedics’, Darryl (Bill Moseley) who looks slightly psychotic and the other Jon Roy (Kane Hodder) who is wearing this type of Hannibal Lecter mask. Next comes the immortal words of “Don’t worry, I’m a paramedic” and with that, you know it is time to meet your maker.
The back-story of Darryl and Jon Roy was presented at the very beginning through the introduction of their abusive father Jimmy (Kenneth Simmons). This really helped in laying the foundations in understanding their characters and how their lives became moulded into a world of violence and destruction. Now, this is not quite the case with the young American teens. I am still debating as to whether that is purely an age thing on my part, whereby I just can’t relate to their issues or whether that they were a little bit on the bland side. One thing for sure was that Darryl and Jon Roy were incredibly dominating. This could be explained by the on screen chemistry between Hodder and Moseley. But I also found that I had more of a connection with the gruesome twosome, which was not felt with the other characters.
It must be said that the first 10 minutes of Old 37 were some of the best out of the entire film. In fact, I did proclaim that I was a “Happy Horror Fan”. I felt a sense of deep joy that I was going to be given something which is different and sets itself apart from others within that genre. But what was noticeable within those first crucial moments was that the cinematography was fantastic. The colours were so rich and vibrant it added to a clear sense of depth and the dramatic on screen. The choice of music throughout was outstanding and sometimes it was like watching one big masochistic music video. The use of heavy-duty industrial tunes was a perfect accompaniment in watching a pair of psycho paramedics finishing off casualties.
What is noteworthy for me is that Christian Winters, who is the director of Old 37, has since dissociated himself from the film as he is now using the pseudonym Alan Smithee. Those who feel that they have lost creative control of their own film will use this alias as a protest.
So from what has started life through a crowd funded project of specific ideas has grown into something that is not recognisable by Winters. Therefore, if at all possible, a directors cut would be a must watch. Old 37 is a fast paced ride to hell. It is a total scream to watch and despite the gripes about the teens, I have now watched it four times.
Words by Amanda Hunt @man_ders11