Stricken is a dark and convoluted low-budget thriller about an obnoxious gang of college students who accidentally kill one of their own...and by ‘dark’ I don’t mean ‘densely plotted’ or ‘downbeat’; I mean ‘poorly lit’.I’ve seen wedding videos that were more clearly photographed than this muddled and derivative little turkey. While the old ‘Oops, we accidentally killed someone. Let’s bury the body and nobody squeal’ plot could probably be used one more time for a fun b-movie, it’s obvious that Stricken is not that movie.
The film’s most glaring error – indeed the only one that needs mentioning – is quite simply that it seems to have been edited together in random order. Since the A to B to C requirements of this tired old plot would logically seem a bit dry, director Paul Chilsen opts to tell his tale through an unending and ultimately illogical series of flashbacks, flash-forwards, and flash-laterals. This movie felt like an SAT examination. Plus, the series of ridiculously cruel “pranks” that these friends play on each other are so outlandish that the inevitable homicide seems less a tragedy and more of a relief.
The only cast member worthy of note (and probably the only reason this movie from 1998 is just now receiving a video release) is Jamie Kennedy, star of Scream and the surprisingly funny TV show The Jamie Kennedy Experiment. Jamie’s never really been considered a master thespian, but compared to his work here, his turn in Scream looks like an Oscar contender. Sure, it’s tough for an actor to do his best when a film’s production value feels slightly lower than that of The Blair Witch Project, but the key word for the cast of Stricken is ‘amateurish’. Not much can be said for Kennedy’s co-stars, except that the actor playing a corpse for much of this film also played “Traction Sailor” in Michael Bay’s Pearl Harbor.The movie is an illogical mishmash of obnoxious characters, a pointlessly confusing editing style, uninteresting plot contrivances, and a visual sense firmly based in the 'locked closet' motif. It takes more than a Best Buy charge card to be a filmmaker.