Horror, 88 Minutes, 2010
[This is the fourth review for this edition of my semi-regular “my-wife-and-kids-are-visiting-relatives-so-I’m-watching-loads-of-crappy-movies” film festival.]
I’m a big fan of John Carpenter and so I was looking forward to this. I wasn’t completely disappointed but at the same time I wasn’t enthralled either. This ends up being an almost exactingly average shocker.
While the supporting cast was somewhat impressive – made up almost exclusively of promising up-and-coming faces from television – Amber Heard simply doesn’t have the skill to pull off a lead role. She’s – and you’ll notice a thread – completely average. She pushes the story along well enough but utterly fails to engage the audience emotionally. I did like Jared Harris here although it was odd to see him here in a piece set in exactly the same period… almost as if he were moonlighting from Sterling Cooper.
The scares are all of the “boo!” variety and unfortunately never very effective. There are many missed opportunities for truly disturbing scares but all are frittered away. Most of the cast is stuck in cardboard, paint-by-the-numbers roles although admittedly in some cases that’s more a plot point.
I must admit that I didn’t see the obligatory plot twist coming. However when it was revealed I felt more bored than intrigued. It was an interesting idea, but since we spent no time really connecting with the characters it was difficult to get excited over. The utterly useless final scene, on the other hand, was broadcast miles in advance and the ending would have been infinitely more interesting without it.
Saying this is aggressively average isn’t saying that it’s bad… just that it’s not good. If you’re a fan of the genre or of the people involved then there are worse ways to spend your 90 minutes. Just don’t expect this to stand tall with Carpenter’s classics. With a better lead and less reliance on tired hollywood cliché it might have, but as is it’s just the definition of disposal cinema.