A group of hip and sassy girls talk for hours about nothing in cars and diners or bars. Then, for a brief fifteen minutes or so they are hunted by a guy in a stuntman car. Then it happens AGAIN but this time the group of girls are all stuntwomen/extreme sports boxers/cheerleaders. Will the hunter become the hunted????
This movie is horrible. In trying to make all the girls be hip and realistic, they all come off as being the same character in different clothes. There is no point to 99% of the dialog in this movie! It's one thing to try to develop your characters in an exploitation murder movie, but there is no development here. Just a bunch of girls sitting in a car cackling at each other's lame insults and talking about whatever it is Quentin Tarantino thinks girls talk about when the guys are away (hint: constant sass-related topics).
Establishing suspense in a movie takes expert timing. It isn't just boring the audience for an hour with talking and then sudden awesome violence. Building suspense requires subtle foreshadowing, playing with the perceptions of your audience, and then the sudden awesome violence . If there is no suspense you are gonna have a hard time creating an effective horror movie.
So is Death Proof just a poor horror movie? Or is it something else? You could look back at the kinds of movies that the Grindhouse project was meant to emulate. These were movies where the whole point was to see some exploitative nudity and maybe some shocking violence. But then you had plenty of "grindhouse" movies that were cheap but effective, such as Basket Case or The Beyond or any number of Italian splatter horror films from the era. Why not emulate those movies?
Of course there has got to be a twist. You can't make a genre film these days without one, and the twist in this one is that the second group of girls are a bunch of badasses. But it's a lazy twist; the whole movie is spent objectifying girls, the camera creepily leering at them. The first girls are all curvy and gorgeous, the second group a little more plain looking. It's disturbing.
Overall the movie is a mess. Not once but twice someone mentions all of Quentin Tarantino's most favorite 70s car chase movies. Keep punching that grindhouse ticket. They even complain about CGI at one point and it comes off as pathetic pandering. Stuff like this pulls you out of the movie; it's one thing to have realistic dialog, it's another to insert wink-and-nudge stuff like this in there hoping all the hipsters in the audience will nod in approval.
The first car chase, which is the best part of the movie and almost approaches being suspenseful (but instead is merely extremely gory which is also okay), is ruined by a stupid instant replay from multiple angles effect. The second car chase, which should have been the best part of the movie, is ruined by focusing not on the cars but on the heroine's face as she utters some of the most ridiculous and unrealistic dialog in the whole movie. There are some good stunts in here but the timing is thrown off by her constant commentary. Think back to Mad Max and the amazing stunts in that. Very little dialog, and they show the drivers only enough to establish who is driving what car and how angry they are. As a result the car chases are thrilling and amazing.
No thrills, no point. That is Death Proof.