Why did I bring home this particular movie, of all the Blockbuster horror flicks on the shelf? I brought this movie home because a critic watched it and liked it and wrote about it. I assume now that the critic had a close personal connection with someone in Creature of Darkness (2009). Perhaps one of the actors owed him money.
Having said that, I will not waste my time or yours ragging on this film. Some guy took the trouble to write a screenplay and direct it. Eleven actors got a payday out of it, as well as a new line in their resumes. Somebody invested money in the movie. Why should I be a churl about it?
This is one of those indies wherein the director transports his script and actors up to Santa Clarita for a week-long shoot in the hills, including nights in the cold (actually 23 days and 23 nights; I underestimated the work that went into this flick), lines up an effects guy for some undergraduate work on a Mac when they get back, and boom, press the disk and ship it! It’s sort of like watching your frat and sorority friends making a movie. Story makes no sense whatever (even though the hero tells us “it’s just like Einstein said”). No hint, no morsel, no single moment, no nanosecond of humor onscreen. 2010 and this the 9,999th movie of its kind and Mark Stouffer wouldn’t or couldn’t crack a smile.
I was hoping for a commentary track, but no. Why did Stouffer make this movie? He’s done some good National Geographic work, won two Emmys and a bunch of other stuff, made some real movies, and…wha?… Mark, where’s your Wiki page? This can’t be right! Marty gets a page and you don’t? To read about you, I’ve gotta go to Linked In? Jesus, you work all your life, you sacrifice, you slave, you bleed, you rack up the honors, and then when you try to put up your page, or your wife tries to put up your page, or your kids try to put up your page, those idiots at Wikipedia keep taking it down, and you put it up again, and they take it down again, the bastards… Fine. Who needs it? I could care less. To hell with them. Don’t ever, I mean EVER, DON’T EVER EVER EVER PUT UP MY WIKI PAGE AGAIN GODDAMMIT!!
There being five young men and five young women in the film, I thought I’d try and guess in advance the order in which the monster kills them off. I got the first one right. A guy asks his girlfriend to flash him – which she does with the camera modestly focused above her collarbones – hey, the movie’s already got an R, what’s the problem here? Stouffer is an old prude? Hoisting up the tank top was integral to the plot! Don’t let her hoist in vain. So anyway, counting that behavior as sex, the guy is immediately doomed and dispatched forthwith. As I recall, the script did not even demand a scream from him. Some of these guys hate to scream! That’s what the girls are for. The angry Latino guy went next. I didn’t see that coming. Surprising, as his IMDB resume seems one of the most solid. Maybe he was being paid by the hour, or would only sign up for one day’s work. And by the way, this movie would have been improved by just losing the monster and concentrating on the existing interpersonal conflicts between the young men and women provided as victims. I guessed the third one to buy it, the gay guy. Not to stereotype but yes, he was made to scream. At this point, I began to wonder if only the guys were going to get killed. With no gratuitous bosom shots, perhaps Stouffer was going for some kind of Caged Heat on us. But no, the second-most spunky woman went down next. With a shriek more than a scream.
After that the director threw me a curve. Turns out that the monster is not killing and eating, he’s collecting and, for example, the gay guy was “a perfect redhead with freckles.” (I hadn’t noticed.) So, speculate the survivors, two of them now are in especial danger because they are “perfect blacks,” or “perfect African Americans,” or “perfect Negroes,” I forget which. Definitely not “perfect N-words.” Santa Clarita is not Gropple, Alabama, after all. Although “perfect” in this case seems to mean “almost able to pass.” Up to their realization that the monster wanted a matched pair of people of color, I hadn’t noticed the couple’s ethnicity at all. Couldn’t tell by looking. The woman’s hair was straighter than any process could produce. Going forward, the director threw in some Ebonic dialog, just to keep the monster clear on his targets. The dude goes street, but maybe he’s just some white dude with a tan, black curly hair, and a jones for acting hip. You dig? Though he does refer to himself at one point as an ebony meatloaf. And whatever my thoughts, the monster didn’t seem to have any doubts!
The monster takes over in the second half of the movie. Guy in black coat (to protect against UV, though it’s nighttime). Then guy in monster latex after the coat burns off. Then animatronic. (I was wrong about the effort and $$ spent on effects; more than I thought. A couple of guys labored over this thing.) Then animatronic monster parts that had been hacked off the main monster. Then digital animated monster. Then monster shadows on the cave wall. Bobblehead monster. I tried the shadows myself, using a hanky draped over my flatscreen. VP of Sales held the flashlight. Spooky.
– Five guys in the group, and the biggest shlub, Devon Sawa, is supposed to be the Alpha dog (sorry, Devon).
– This is a group of 30s playing 20 with one female 40 playing 30 playing 20. You go, Girl!
– At least 3 Johnny Dramas here. Provides context for Entourage.
– Men’s gel still helps.
– Hey. No cell phone reception.
– “Courage doesn’t need explaining.”
– Hard to describe but there’s some stock music at one point in the movie that means a fire is going to start and then stuff is going to start blowing up. The track is instantly recognizable on a gut level: boinggg…boinggg… ding ding…ding… fwoosh!
– At the start of the movie, a guy shoots a ground squirrel with a rifle. What was that all about?
– Stouffer throws the gore fans a bone, literally – in this case, a complete, articulated spine.
– All that nature footage he shot in the past, seems like he could have gone natural here a little more, if you know what I mean.
– Stouffer. Any connection with the frozen dinners?
Final thoughts: Mark, you are no spring chicken. Use your time more wisely. Do not waste the remaining years before you go senile on something like this, even if you want to involve family in the project like you did here. Mark, you made this movie sixty years too late. Take all that money you spent on the monster (sorry, monster-fabrication guys, you seem nice in the Making Of feature) and next time give it to refugees, or for research into some horrible disease, or even to the guy who asked me for change at the gas station this morning.
Filed under: Science Fiction |