A bunch of contestants hanging around in "The Task".

A bunch of contestants hanging around in "The Task".

After having read its synopsis for “The Task”, I was really excited about this film. I thought to myself, “what a great concept” and it was… until someone covered, smothered and strangled nearly every ounce of originality from it. “The Task” becomes a very befitting title for this unnecessarily complicated, concept-wasting, killer of time and patience.

The film opens with Dixon (Texas Battle), just a normal guy, strolling down the street, singing along to his iPod, enjoying a cup of coffee. He then literally walks into a beautiful woman loaded down with packages, causing her to drop everything. Being a polite young man, and not having failed to notice her beauty, Dixon offers not only to help her pick up the packages but to load them into the back of her car. What he hadn’t noticed was the ominous white van, backed up directly to the pretty lady’s car. He’s kidnapped and tossed into the van with several others.

Dixon comes to find out that they all have one thing in common: they had all recently auditioned for a reality show and now, they get to participate. The other contestants include the fearless Angel (Antonia Campbell-Hughes), aspiring starlet Shoe (Ashley Mulheron), brainy Toni (Amara Karan), protective brother Stanton (Tom Payne) and proudly effeminate Randall (Marc Pickering). The rules are simple: the contestants are to spend the night in a haunted jail, where they must each perform a task, which is revealed to them in turn. If they complete their task and remains inside the jail until morning, the prize is $20,000.00. However, if they all make it through the night, tasks completed, there will be a substantial amount added to the prize money, to split between them.

“The Task” suffers from thinking too much and not thinking enough. Take, for example, the tasks. They are based on the answers the contestants gave during their auditions to the question “What’s your greatest fear?” The answers were common, and certainly relatable to the audience. Here, the writers could have taken these fears and really done a number on the viewers’ minds by simply utilizing this one concept to its fullest potential. Instead, we get laziness and a lack of foresight in this case. It is not only screamingly apparent in the almost inane tasks themselves but also in the way they’re handed out. Handing out each task is the clown (Jonas Talkington). It has to be one of the most painful elements of this movie to bear. He issues out each new task via computer screen: fire and brimstone delivery in front of a ridiculously “hellish” background. It reeks of cheese and low budget in an otherwise decent set. Thankfully, other supporting characters aren’t as awful, but they are almost completely underused and are mostly annoying caricatures.

Erring to the other extreme, what could have been a very good story was muddied up with layers of lame plot twists that could be heard coming from miles away. If they had pared away all the useless extra sub-plots and the core concept had actually been developed instead of buried, this could have been one really good horror movie. Unfortunately it died on the table before someone with common sense and a nose for horror could jump in and save it.

In short, it was a “Task” to watch.