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Pipeline (2020) Review

Pipeline isn’t a surfing film or a documentary about the controversies surrounding the attempts to build the Keystone XL. What is it about you ask? It’s about a house with something evil, or at least very hungry, living in the plumbing and the college students unlucky enough to rent it.

Surprisingly Pipeline isn’t the first film to deal with plumbing that would send Mario and Luigi running in fright. Microbudget mainstay Brett Piper covered this ground back in 2000 with Drainiac!, a film as enjoyably daft as its title. Can writer/director Emily Aguilar (Clara’s Ultimate Christmas, Brie’s Bake Off Challenge) deliver a film that’s as much fun, or will it be eighty-five minutes flushed down the crapper?

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The prologue sets things up for us. Something kills Olivia (Elizabeth Cascarelli, Loophole) while she’s doing her laundry. Whatever it was the house’s owners Greg (Jason Alan Cook, Bigfoot: Path of the Beast) and Lisa (Desiree Martin, Alien Dawn) know about it, as does Lisa’s father.

A couple of weeks later Chris (Keaton Ray), Nichole (Yvonne Bowser-Caballero) and several friends rent the place as a place to stay before and after a music festival. Even Alexis (Shannon Scully) inviting herself along can’t dampen their spirits. Neither can the creepy old guy Merlin (Marc Goodman, The Marshal) in the guest house.

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Pipeline gives us a creature that gets around using the house’s pipes, which, given its origins, I couldn’t figure out how it managed. And there isn’t even an attempt at explaining it. This being a low-budget film, we mostly see shadowy glimpses of it, or a hand reaching out of the darkness. It’s too bad because what we do see certainly looks good. The creature’s kills are off-screen, and the effects are limited to blood flowing under doors or bubbling up in a bath.

Plotwise, Pipeline isn’t anything you haven’t seen before. An unseen creature stalking its prey in a dark house. Characters with secrets darker than the house. It did manage to misdirect me and catch me off guard a couple of times though. Unfortunately the film never really develops much in the way of suspense or atmosphere, either of which could help make up for the lack of effects. That may be due to Aguilar’s background being in kids’ films rather than anything genre-related. On the other hand, that kind of background didn’t stop Christopher Alender and Marcos Gabriel from making Anything for Jackson so memorable.

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Pipeline might be ok for something to kill time if you’re not feeling picky, but it never rises above the level of watchable. The potential was there, but it needed to deliver a decent monster,impressive kills or plenty of scares. It falls short on all three.

Wild Eye Releasing will premiere Pipeline April 27th On Demand and on DVD. You can check the film’s Facebook page for details.

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