Pruitt Taylor Vince
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25th Jun 07
Jack Bauer’s idiot daughter is held captive for 84 minutes. The audience, sadly, is not.
When ‘world-famous supermodel’ (!) Jennifer (Elisha Cuthbert) is drugged by an unseen figure at a party she wakes up and finds herself in a booby-trapped basement, having been kidnapped by a serial killer. Unable to find a way out, she is forced to play along with the sick games of her captor to stay alive, while the audience fights a battle to stay awake.
Oh dear. Yes folks we are talking post-Saw territory here, with a dash of Hostel thrown in for good (or bad) measure. After a competent, relatively spooky credit sequence the film offers up a basic Xerox of the Saw model for 40-odd minutes, with the odd graphic moment and the usual cat and mouse cobblers as the killer toys with – and psychologically tortures – his captive.
Midway through this tedium however, we are offered an unexpected entertainment lifeline. With quite breathtaking audacity, screenwriters Larry Cohen (who should know better) and Joseph Tura offer us an absurd, telegraphed twist and mind-bogglingly stupid developments that are so spectacularly bungled, all you can do is sit back, chuckle at the idiocy and pray for some carnage. The unintentional laughs do come, but sadly (and despite the desperately ‘controversial’ poster campaign) the gore does not.
I won’t indulge in spoilers here but seriously this is a lamentable attempt at a psychological thriller, throwing every hoary cliché into the mix – incompetent cops, killer in black cloak and hood, creepy doll-strewn apartment and - my personal favourite - a psycho who handily keeps every detail of his grisly past in a series of easy to find, elaborate ring binders! We also get the obligatory shaky super 8mm footage that explains away the killers motive (quite who filmed this stuff is never satisfactorily explained).
The blandly pretty Cuthbert seems to be making a career out of playing foolish bints, and the fact that she barely convinces as a model doesn’t bode too well for her future in film. However, to be fair the material is so shoddy that no-one involved fares particularly well. The filmmakers make the crucial mistake of believing that their audience is as stupid as their lead character, which – judging by the laughs at the preview screening – was a serious misjudgement.
It’s impossible to root for Cuthbert’s character and there is very little real claustrophobia or threat in the movie. Naturally given this sorry state of affairs the exploitation mind starts to crave carnage and T&A. Fat chance. It’s tame sub-FHM cleavage and blurred-out nude scenes all the way.
Scrabbling for plus points, Roland Joffe (The Mission) manages to shoot the flick in
semi-effective style and the sound mix is overpoweringly loud (which is handy as it reminds you that you are watching a horror film and that you should jump from time to time). Plus at 84 minutes it’s mercifully short.
After the screening, as the howls of audience derision died down, I began to ponder whether the whole movie was an elaborate hoax on us all, such are the liberties taken with plot character and credulity. But it isn’t – it’s just badly executed, and frankly whoever green-lit this pap deserves to be executed, badly.
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