A great movie monster taps into our most primal fears, be it existential dread (ghosts) or the current paranoia of the day (radioactive Taliban zombies). But as we have previous discussed, creating an effective new monster is sometimes more of a challenge than the writers and producers are capable of overcoming, and we are left with things like a man with a turkey head and a refrigerator that eats people.
As the title suggests, Death Spa is the bone-chilling tale of a haunted spa that kills anyone fool enough to tone their Herculean lats within its four walls. It unleashes its fury on its hapless victims via bone-cracking exercise machines, volcanic saunas, and exploding vanity mirrors.
It also inexplicably wields frozen fish, because the producers quickly realized that there are only so many ways a person can die at the gym.
Presenting No. 17.
Getting murdered by inanimate objects has proven to be a successful formula -- just look at all the sequels for The Omen and Final Destination -- but Death Spa is unique in that it requires people to be inside a 1980s health club to be in any sort of danger. This is a somewhat limited pool to draw from, and once word got around that people were getting killed by the exercise equipment, we imagine the membership fees would dry up.
You can understand the brilliance of great films by watching terrible ones; for instance, here you suddenly understand that whole plot point in Jaws about how the town depended on tourism and intentionally gave beachgoers a false sense of security about the shark. Otherwise the audience is going, "Damn, can't these people just not go swimming for a while?" We dare say that Death Spa did not put as much thought into it. Beyond pointing out the obvious fact that a butterfly press cannot possibly kill someone the way it does in the film, no matter how much weight you put on it ...
Seriously, it can't pivot back beyond its own fulcrum. Read a book.
... what's to stop people from just not going in? Couldn't the people of the 1980s exercise at home, or at the YMCA, or at any number of other non-possessed spas and rec centers, with absolutely zero chance of getting drowned in the lap pool by a ghost? The Death Spa would claim one, maybe two victims before everyone in the city decided to never go near the place ever again and just sit on the couch eating diet pills in front of a Knots Landing marathon.
... wait, one of the cats?
The producers of Strays were looking to make a horror movie about the terrorizing rampage of killer animals and settled on house cats, presumably because the only thing they could agree on was that it hadn't been done before.
"Spielberg did it with sharks and dinosaurs, right? Why not cats? Why not cats?"
The trailer attempts to sell us on the palpable threat the cats pose of frightening children and the elderly, because those are literally the only groups of people that are in any kind of danger from a house cat.
After all, there are precisely two types of incidents you have ever read about wherein a cat has killed a person (or cats, to be fair to the film's premise): suffocating a baby in a crib, or converging on an old hermit. And in pretty much every case, the old hermit was already dead, as in "Prune-Faced Millie the Cat Lady had a heart attack in her living room, and by the time the cops found her body, her 97 cats had eaten her head." That's hardly enough of a premise to sustain 90 minutes.
Searching for the one cat turd that didn't make it into the litter box is more suspenseful than this movie.
There is a reason why a house cat is always the fake scare in a horror movie when the characters are stumbling around in a murder cabin investigating strange noises, only to have the harmless old tabby jump out of the closet. No virile adult is getting brought down by a cat unless he trips over the freaking thing and falls down the stairs, and if we wanted to see ridiculous haunted accidents, we'd go back to Death Spa.
What's worse is that it seems like the makers of Strays understood this, and yet went ahead with production anyway -- one of the only deaths in the movie is a nameless power company technician who looks like he could break Admiral Whiskers' spine with a glare. How do the cats manage to kill him? One of them jumps on his back and he trips and bashes his head into a pipe.
They should've added grammatically poor Impact font subtitles and tried to sell it off as a comedy.