Needle 

Oh, it's not great, but for an Aussie mix of "Final Destination" and "Hellraiser," you could expect much worse.

College student Ben Rutherford (Travis Fimmel, "The Experiment") inherits an interesting item from his late father's estate: an ornate, 18th-century box that, he and pals learn the hard way after it's stolen, has the power to kill. It's a process that involves inserting a photo of the person to be nixed, adding some blood, turning a crank and out pops a wax voodoo figure for you to poke and prod with hot needles, helpfully included.

And so, when they least expect it, this poor bastard gets dismembered while climbing a rock wall at the gym, and this poor bitch meets her unfortunate fate while taking in the dip in the pool.

This is why I don't go antiquing. Still, I want one.

It's up to Ben, his estranged brother (Michael Dorman, "Killer Elite") and you, dear reader, to surmise who's doing the dastardly work before they, too, are next. (You, however, are safe.) They also start to wonder what was up with their dearly departed dad for owning such a contraption; why couldn't he just had a secret porn collection like everyone else? In close-up, the thief's hands are shown wearing black gloves, which is a nod to the Italian giallo, whose greatest practitioner, Dario Argento, gets name-checked.

Director/co-writer John V. Soto is no Argento, but the man whips up a serviceable enough slice of horror and suspense in his sophomore outing that I admire without feeling amorous. Again, "Needle" isn't likely to be remembered years from now, but it shows that Australia can churn out a dead-teenager flick as slick and sick as Americans. The gore crosses a line of exposure I certainly didn't expect, so g'going mate!  —Rod Lott

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Rod Lott

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