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Decoys: The Second Seduction

(AKA Decoys 2: Alien Seduction) 2006, Starring Tyler Johnston, Corey Sevier, Kailin See, Kim Poirier, Dina Meyer, Tobin Bell. Directed by Jeffery Scott Lando.

Conceived as the start of a new horror franchise from the beginning, the first Decoys film managed, somewhat awkwardly, to meld two of the most historically popular (but critically maligned) Canadian genres together the horror film and the teen sex comedy. Taking its cues from big-budget Hollywood productions like American Pie and Species rather than our low-budget homegrown productions, the original was released in 2004 as a slick rival of the then-popular Ginger Snaps series. It's true that the first installment in the series was no classic not by a longshot but it did find an audience when it was released straight-to-video by Sony. Not surprisingly, this inevitable sequel takes the franchise into a downward trajectory with a much smaller budget and less successful special effects, much like its lycanthropic celluloid cousin.

Their prior fates apparently forgotten, the stars of the first film, Kim Poirier and Cory Sevier are back to reprise their roles as the alien queen Constance and scruffy now-grad student Luke, but this time, they're initiating a bunch of fresh faces into the killer space tentacle tradition. The timid Sam (Tyler Johnson) headlines the Decoys sophomore class, the male half of which become caught up in a heated contest that assigns guys point values for their romantic conquests--a ploy similar to another lacklustre Canadian sequel, Screwballs II: Loose Screws. This somewhat reprehensible competition plays right into the chilly hands of a bevy of new blonde extra terrestrial killers running around campus, who are just itching to thrust their freeze-ray spurting feelers down an unsuspecting frat boy's throat during sex. As more and more of his dorm mates disappear without a trace and are presumed flash-frozen, Sam joins forces with Luke, who once again must stop Constance and her posse of sub-zero sluts.

Taking over for Decoys  director Matt Hastings, Jeffery Lando has been making a name for himself in the last few years, with the well-crafted rural revenge shocker Savage Island, as well as creature features Insecticidal and Alien Incursion, making him a natural for this project. And he does a reasonable job with Decoys 2, despite the obvious limitations of the budget, and a very weak script by Revenge of the Nerds co-writer Miguel Tejada-Flores. Mercilessly recycling the plot of the first film while stripping out almost all of the Cronenbergian allusions, it becomes obvious that this sequel is entirely superfluous, nothing more than a cynical continuation of a series that really should have been put into cold storage three years ago.

As with Rose's phallic protuberance in Rabid, Decoys drew much of its capacity for fright from a plot twist that saw the aliens able to "penetrate" their male victims in a clear reversal of sexual roles. This time, however, the erotic imagery is toned down significantly, replaced by a far more misogynistic viewpoint--these girls are able to hypnotize each guy into believing she is his "perfect fantasy" by suddenly appearing in fetishistic outfits like bodysuits, leather gear and Catholic school uniforms. Once they have the poor sap in their clutches, they don't kill him, however, but instead load his stomach with alien eggs and throw him into deep freeze, making viewers wonder if Tejada-Flores isn't simply projecting his own (or his perceived viewership's) resentment of being trapped in a relationship onto these hapless students.

If there's one improvement over the original film, it's that the new, no-name cast is far more believable than their predecessors. The gawky Johnston is particularly good, and eventually becomes a far more sympathetic leading character than Sevier, who fits in much better here with a restrained co-starring role. The only disappointment is Kailin See, who plays Stephanie, since she's stuck in virtually the same clichd character as Meghan Ory was in the original--a virginal girl with glasses who secretly lusts after the hero. Care to guess how that romantic subplot plays out? I'll bet you can.

One of the smartest decisions on Decoys was its sparing use of CGI effects. We only saw a few tentacle sequences, and there were barely any glimpses of the girls in their grotesque alien forms, which seemed to work both from a budgetary and artistic standpoint. Forgoing this lesson, the sequel stuffs in as many computer generated extra-terrestrials as it can, which is a shame, because it's obvious this time around exactly how cheap and unconvincing these scenes are. Badly animated tendrils fly around the room during each sex scene, and the girls frequently revert to their unconvincing (and unimaginatively designed) slimy green selves. While its predecessor tried to maintain a balance of genuine chills and camp, Decoys 2 doesn't seem interested in either approach.

Though shot in Edmonton, Alberta, the film has even been stripped of its Canadian setting, with the students now supposedly attending some unnamed school in the Pacific Northwest. It's not wholly surprising that a Canadian genre film would be set outside its own country, but to needlessly change the location is a further slap in the face for a series that started out as proudly Canadian, name dropping other Canadian horror films, the CFL and its own setting of New Brunswick.

Forgoing almost all the aspects of the first film that made it such a fun exercise in Canadian sci-fi/horror, Decoys 2 is a frigid failure with very little to recommend about it.

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