Teardrop is the fourth collaboration between Tubi and director Steven R. Monroe, the other three being Unborn, First Person Shooter and Harland Manor. This time working from a script from Spyder Dobrofsky (The Housewives of the North Pole, Spiral) he’s revisiting the old trope of a field trip to an old ghost town that more than lives up to its name.
After an opening in what appears to be the 1930s wherein a panicked man trying to flee the town ends up the victim of a supernatural lynching, we move to the present day. A pair of rather mismatched teachers Chris (Jeff Branson, Visions I Spit On Your Grave) and Rebecca (Murray Gray, Unsullied, The Devil You Know) and three of their students Ross (Michael Maclane, Dream Screechers, One and the Same), Teela (Megan Lee, Prophecy of Eve, Anita Ho) and Josie (Rachael Thundat, Evan Wood, Deadly Girls Night Out) to the town of Teardrop.
Right from the start, we know something isn’t right as Denver (Bradley Fisher, Visible Scars, Westworld), the owner of the hotel, refuses to shake hands and tells them “Teardrop is more of a pit stop. Take a look out the window and keep going, I recommend you do the same”. They, of course, don’t take his advice.
Teardrop’s lack of budget is noticeable right from the start. The town is obviously an Old West tourist attraction and when Denver recounts how the town came to be called Teardrop, we mostly see shots of toys belonging to the girl responsible for its odd name rather than the events we’re hearing about. Similarly, there isn’t much put into the characters either. They’re all one note, Ross is a white rapper wannabe, Teala is Asain-American so of course, she’s overly serious and studious and Josie already has implants at seventeen and flirts constantly with Chris.
It doesn’t take long before the kids are seeing and hearing strange things in the night and Chris is having feelings of deja vu, complete with what appears to be flashbacks to events in the town’s past. And I knew just how he felt because I had a feeling I’d seen this before and was having flashbacks to plenty of other films.
I’ve said more than once that a familiar story told exceptionally well can still be entertaining. The problem with Teardrop is that it’s an oft-told tale told exceptionally cheaply and nothing more. It comes as no shock that Chris not only has a connection not just to the town but its infamous “Hanging Judge”. Or that a lot of restless spirits still reside there.
The budget doesn’t allow for anything in the way of effects, be they ghostly or gory, so there’s nothing to distract the viewer from how predictable it all is. Everyone wanders around town and a few low-budget paranormal phenomena such as nooses mysteriously appearing occur. People wander off alone and die, usually bloodlessly or off-screen.
Perhaps worst of all, Monroe can’t even build up any atmosphere even during the Teardrop’s night scenes. There’s never a feeling of dread, tension or an urgent need to get out of Dodge. Or out of Teardrop as the case may be. Hell, with one exception there aren’t even any jump scares. There are several attempts to make the viewer jump, but they’re all predictable and fall flat.
Much like films from The Asylum or Mark Polonia, I keep watching Tubi Originals hoping for some microbudget magic among all of the crap. Unfortunately, even Polonia has a better track record than Tubi. Maybe they should hire him to do their next film, he couldn’t do a worse job than this.