Acolytes ★★

Playing at times like a more brutal variation on Stand By Me, this Aussie thriller tracks three especially dumb teens who get into a world of trouble after they discover a dead girl’s body buried in the woods. The premise, which involves two serial killers, probably would sound scarier when described than it plays. Director Hewitt relies far too heavily on post-production effects to try to wring cheap scares out of a psychologically motivated story. The result is a movie that seems schizophrenically pitched between examining the teens’ guilt, presenting them as victims, and disturbing us when they turn vindictive. The plot, wobbly from the start, only gets worse as the film proceeds. By its end, Acolytes has sacrificed any semblance of nuance for the sake of loud noises and quick cutting.