Teardrop (2022) poster

Teardrop (2022)


USA. 2022.


Director – Steven R. Monroe, Screenplay – Spyder Dobrofsky, Producers – Stan Spry & Eric Woods, Photography – Christian Klein, Music – Contorted Minds, Visual Effects – Rogue State, Production Design – Reka Vivian Szabo. Production Company – Cartel Pictures.


Jeff Branson (Chris Cotton), Murray Grey (Rebecca Harris), Bradley Fisher (Denver), Michael Maclane (Ross), Rachel Thundat (Josie), Megan Lee (Teala)


Three school pupils are taken on a tour of Western ghost towns by Chris Cotton, who has written a book on the subject of such towns, and fellow teacher Rebecca Harris. They arrive in the town of Teardrop, which has a haunted reputation because of its Hanging Judge who executed all and sundry. As they settle in at the saloon, they come to the realisation that the town is haunted and they cannot leave.

Steven R. Monroe is a prolific genre director who has been making a series of films since the 2000s that have mostly aired on the Syfy Channel. These include the likes of The Contract (2002), House of 9 (2005), It Waits (2005), Left in Darkness (2006), Sasquatch Mountain (2006), Dual (2008), Ogre (2008), Storm Cell (2008), Ice Twisters (2009), Wyvern (2009), Mongolian Death Worm (2010), Jabberwock (2011), MoniKa (2012), End of the World (2013), Grave Halloween (2013), The Exorcism of Molly Hartley (2015) and Unborn (2022).. The two films that Monroe gained a certain notoriety for was the remake of I Spit on Your Grave (2010) and its sequel I Spit on Your Grave 2 (2013).

The haunted Western ghost town is a regular trope in gene cinema. It turns up in films such as Ghost Town (1988), Phantom Town (1999), Purgatory (1999) and Cowboys vs Vampires/Dead West (2010). There are assorted other variants – towns filled with witches, mummies etcs. See my essay Weird Westerns for a more detailed overview.

Jeff Branson in Teardrop (2022)
Jeff Branson as teacher/writer Chris Cotton

Teardrop feels exactly as though the filmmakers obtained the use of a Western recreation town (the Veluzat Movie Ranch in Santa Clarita, California in fact) and created a film around it. It is an incredibly bland and middle-of-the-road film. One of the most frustrating aspects is the one-dimensionality of the characters. These consist of clichés like the nerdy Asian bookworm, the horny teenage guy; the teenage girl with the crush on the teacher, and the teacher hitting on his co-worker (which in a very 2020s take, she has to keep deflating and remind him is inappropriate).

Crucially, Teardrop fails as a ghost story because there is nothing spooky about it. It assembles a bunch of the genre’s tropes – an old abandoned town, people who cannot leave and may be ghosts, a sense of the past replaying/asserting itself. For a long time, all that the film consists of are hints of something without anything actually happening. You keep wondering – “can this be from the same director who made two I Spit on Your Grave films?” The I Spit on Your Grave films and Teardrop sit at such an opposite of extremes – one raw and brutal, the other tepid and forgettable. The film mounts to a few deaths near the end before an eminently predictable twist.

Trailer here

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