Tag Archives: weird-ass twist

THE RETREAT

silentscream1.5 Stars  2005/15/86m

“When the hood appears…friends disappear!”

A.k.a. Silent Scream (DVD title)

Directors/Writers: Matt Cantu & Lance K.R. Lawas / Writer: Bob Brown / Cast: Melissa Schuman, Scott Vickaryous, Shanti Lowry, Michael McKiddy, Walter Harris, Peter Carey, Cheryl Campbell, Lance Croy, Roger Bergeron, Chrissy Lawver, Courtney Kling, Mike Kinney, Carey Shawn, David Craze, Rick Lundgren.

Body Count: 15

Dire-logue: “Death and lust just don’t go together.”


Look! One of the directors names has ‘can’t’ in it! That’s strange…isn’t it?

In another handsome looking but horribly scripted video slashfest, dim-witted psyche majors celebrate the end of their course with a weekend at their professor’s isolated cabin in snowy Michigan, where they are stalked and slain by a Parka-clad maniac who should probably pay damages to the fiend from Urban Legend.

In a structural anomaly, half of the class travel up on one night and all but two are killed in the first twenty minutes. The rest of them drive up the next day to meet an identical fate, albeit drawn out for the remainder of the running time. High body count notwithstanding, the film drags along at painfully drab rate with acting so dire it makes Eldorado look like a Stanislavsky masterclass.

Too much time is wasted on the dreadful dialogue between are-they/aren’t-they couple Nicole and Mark, who, unfortunately, are the nominal leads. Both of them amass zero sympathy; he intended to cheat on her with two sexy classmates, while she is in an unrelenting bad mood, which would likely make any guy want to skip off for the chance of a menage a trois. However, even during the chase scenes they pause to discuss getting back together.

Once everyone is mercifully laid to waste, the film flicks the twist switch with a trick only marginally less offensive than the ‘it was all a dream’ ending, which makes you want to kick the screen in. Actually, it’s not marginally less offensive, it amounts to the same thing. Kick it!!!

This travesty of Horror 101 accounted for, The Retreat looks like it was written by a couple of twelve-year-olds who’ve just seen their first Friday the 13th movie and think they can do better by chucking in ‘inventive’ deaths (that were evidently too expensive to be shown on screen), pointless girl-on-girl action, that stupid fucking twist, and somehow been lucky enough to land a competent photographer to make it look a thousand times better than it has a right to and a cover designer who probably never watched it and decided it sounded enough like Saw to provide rip-off art.

If you happen across this, beat your own retreat!

Blurb-of-interest: Melissa Schuman (moody cow) was in The Hollow.

Amount of sense? Nun.

nunTHE NUN

2 Stars  2005/15/102m

“Not all water is holy…”

Director: Luis de la Madrid / Writers: Jaume Balaguero & Manu Diaz / Cast: Anita Briem, Belen Blanco, Manu Fullola, Alistair Freeland, Cristina Piaget, Paulina Galvez, Natalia Dicenta, Oriana Bonet, Tete Delgado, Lola Marcelli.

Body Count: 8

Dire-logue: “So let me get this straight: are you trying to tell me that all this is some sort of I Know What You Did Eighteen Summers Ago or something?”


Some filmmakers must want to tear their own ears off with frustration when studio executives meddle with their creativity. In some cases it might make the film better, but in others it’s sure to render the production a lost cause. Such is the case of The Nun, a handsome looking Spanglish production, which, for 95 of it’s 102 minutes is an interesting, kinda creepy little supernatural slasher – and then comes that twist.

nun1Six naughty Catholic school girls accidentally murder the sadistic Sister Ursula after she goes too far abusing one of them. Eighteen years later, the grown women are falling victim to her ghost, who manifests from water, usually from overflowing baths or sinks. When young Eve witnesses the death of her mother by the nun and then the outcome of another tragic ‘accident’, she agrees to tag along to Spain with her friends Julia and Joel and pick up where her mom left off, meeting the other surviving girls to figure out why they started dying… Eve gets on the trail with her pals and a sexy young wannabe-priest and they all end up at the condemned convent with the final two women in a bid to put an end to spectre-nun for good.

The first third of The Nun is a professional looking mix of Darkness Falls and Final Destination with a sprinkling of J-horror conventions, showing off some good demises and competent CGI work. However, once the action shifts to Spain (despite the fact it’s all evidently been shot there) and the main characters make their way to the old school, things start to drag… There’s a mini-twist about the deaths reflecting those of the girls’ patron saints and if things had ended with the destruction of the nun all would be well.

nun2But no.

The twist that is ‘suddenly’ revealed is so crap and reveals so many glaring inconsistencies that you could fly a Boeing 747 through the plot holes, absolutely shattering what credence the film had amassed unto this point. Given the explanation provided, what they propose to be the truth could not have even happened at all. It will make you want to die your own grisly death because it sucks. Sucks, sucks, sucks!

You want to know? Seriously? OK…

S P O I L A G E

There is no nun, Eve is the killer. So explains a miraculously clued-in Joel at the end, a “traumatic event” made her the killer, i.e. her mom’s death, but wait – according to earlier dialogue, mom was the second victim as the first burned to death in London a few days earlier. Did Eve fly to London and kill her then? If so, she also has the power to walk through walls and manages to oversee the elevator death before she even arrives at the hotel! It’s also apparently possible to impale oneself with a speargun.

Honestly, did they think everyone watching had Alzheimers?

You’re screwed.

loverslanedvdLOVERS LANE

2.5 Stars  1999/18/89m

“You’re screwed.”

A.k.a. I’m Still Waiting For You (U.K. DVD)

Director: Jon Ward / Writers: Rory Veal & Geof Miller / Cast: Erin J. Dean, Riley Smith, Sarah Lancaster, Anna Faris, Billy O, Matt Reidy, Suzanne Bouchard, Richard Sanders, Ben Indra, Megan Victoria Hunt, Collin F. Peacock.

Body Count: 14

Dire-logue: “You are gonna fuck me right now, or I’m gonna kill your faggot ass!”


Back in the late nineties when everyone and their grandma decided that slasher films were the way to go all over again, there were a lot of attempts to take what worked on the big screen and smallify it for the straight-to-video market, ‘cos, remember, DVD was still a bizarro pipedream which none of us could afford.

Lovers Lane is a mid-level combo of a blender sludge made up of three parts I Know What You Did Last Summer, one part Urban Legend and one part of the then-incoming Cherry Falls. Picking out Valentine’s Day for its calendar-day-to-dread, a couple of horny teens are tormented by a hook-handed fiend and, in a little twist to what we expect will happen, successfully escape to raise the alarm and then stumble on two dead bodies. The psycho is duly picked up by the cops and all is well again.

Thirteen years later, hook-handy bloke escapes from his asylum, leaving the overly personal insult of “Prison Food Sucks” written on the wall in blood. Now, his shrink is half-brother to the Sheriff/widower of the female victim from years ago, and father to bitchy school queen bee Chloe, who is thus cousin to Sheriff/widower’s lonely daughter Mandy. Male victim from years ago was husband to the school principal, who is mom to Michael, Chloe’s long suffering boyfriend – and he and Mandy avoid one another. Naturally, there’s awkwardness between Sheriff and Principal as it’s believed their spouses were having it away when they got slaughtified.

lovers lane 1999 anna faris

The teens have some dramas: Michael dumps Chloe, who has serious anger management issues, and she hatches a plan to win him back via the olde jealousy schtick of taking his buddy Brad up to ‘Lovers Lane’ where they’ll be caught by Michael blah blah blah… Mandy is invited ‘to party’ with the others, including Janelle (Anna Faris) who wears nothing but her cheerleader uniform for the whole film, Billy O as Mandy’s horny date and another couple we don’t really care about.

Hook-dude kills a store clerk and a cop and then goes after the teens, stalking them to a deserted farmhouse and offing them one by one until Michael and Mandy put aside their differences and face “THE TRUTH ABOUT THE PAST”, which is quite different from what we’ve been led to believe. To its credit, Lovers Lane has an almost-smart twist. I say almost because it’s difficult to follow and you have to pay attention to the Scoobying of Sheriff and Principal in their scenes to understand some stuff about incest, jealousy n’ shit. Principal becomes slightly annoying; when there’s violence unfolding before her, she stands there and watches, not helping, not even when her own son is in danger!

lovers lane 1999

There’s not much bloodshed and the budgetary limitations make the scenes set in the dark (i.e. most of them) difficult to see, possibly as an homage to all the no-cash productions of the 80s where minutes would tick by without being able to tell what the hell was happening. And what’s with the UK title? I’m Still Waiting for You? Who is? Hook-guy? Waiting for who? The teens who were four-year-olds at the start? No, no, no – it’s a stupid attempt to fool people into renting it. The box even says “in the tradition of I Know What You Did Last Summer! There are no Last Summer-style letters sent to anyone here, it’s purely the hook-myth thing.

If you want to watch it, I’ll not stop you (like I could!?) But try to appreciate it’s unintentional sense of mirth: the scrawling of hook-guy on the wall not being enough, Janelle snatches four knives from the block to defend herself when she believes the killer is after her… Inoffensive slasherama that is not easy to hate, you’ll be like “aww…they tried”, even though at times they clearly didn’t. You could do worse.

Blurbs-of-interest: the fab Faris later married co-star Indra (who played Brad) and then divorced him, but she also starred in Scary Movie and it’s increasingly dire sequels and also May; Billy O was later in Shredder.

Harper’s Island: Episodes 12 & 13

harpersFinal body count: 31

And so it ends, the bizarre, drawn-out slasher flick that would normally only occupy a cool 85 minutes, but instead clocks in at around 546. The mystery is solved, a helluva lotta folks are dead  – but who will walk away?

Before we get to that, I’ll share some of my early suspicions and stuff. Initially, I expected Cal to be the killer. Why? Well, American films quite often cast the Brit as the villain. It was a pleasant surprise to learn that he was neither the psycho nor a coward, less pleasant when he got skewered by John Wakefield.

I thought early on that there must be more than one killer, due to the presence of the primary cast members when murders were committed elsewhere.

In my little utopic Harperian Island, I wanted to see Abby survive along with all round nice bloke Danny, Trish, Jimmy and, yeah, okay, Madison. Kids usually irritate me in these with their ability to live through anything but she had that great creepy vibe and that excellent line: “I’m not going to get to be a flower girl…Abby!”

In Episode 12, Sully and Danny manage to capture John Wakefield, incapacitate and imprison him – everybody still able to breathe breathes a sigh of relief but we know better… Wakefield requests an audience with Abby and fills in a few historical gaps and says he located his son. Suspects narrowed down to four. Is it Jimmy like everyone thinks? Nah… Been down that alley before.

S P O I L A G E   F O L L O W S . . .

After accidentally falling off a cliff (!), Trish finds a boathouse with a working radio and the group manage to summon the coastguard. Wakefield somehow breaks out and fights with Danny, managing to send him eye-first on to one of those paper-needle things (as seen in Intruder in 1988) and Shea and Madison escape. Unfortunately for the others, re-splitting up to take showers and stuff couldn’t be a more dense decision at the time and Trish puts on her wedding dress to show Henry. Coulda seen this coming… a noise outside sends him on the investigative detail and Wakefield attacks her, sending her on a woodland chase in her lovely white dress, which gets all dirty until she runs into the arms of Henry, who subsequently confesses he slipped Wakefield the key, murdered a whole loada people and then sticks a knife into her! Wakefield materialises: “Hi dad!”

Much of the finale sees Henry and his father trying to off the final five survivors before the coastguard arrives. After sending Shea and Madison off towards land in a small motorboat, Sully gets himself killed, leaving only Abby and Jimmy to figure out the truth just in time and Henry shockingly murders his own dad instead of Abby, sets fire to the church to cover up the deaths and, as far as the cops are concerned, all loose ends are tied up.

It turns out that Henry would rather be with his half-sister forever and traps her inside a house on the island where they can live in secret. Jimmy is tied up in the garage as a ploy; Henry wants him to confess to being Wakefield’s accomplice so that no harm comes Abby’s way. Of course, she has other ideas and they manage to break free, kill Henry and save the day, albeit too late for 27 of the other cast members.

So there you have it, Harper’s Island finishes. I’d switched suspects to Henry a few episodes back, given that the writers were trying to push us towards Jimmy as the killer and neither Sully nor Danny seemed to have motive (although in hindsight, remembering that Sully was Trish’s former lover, he could easily have been the killer). In truth, I doubted the killer would be female and half expected Booth might come back from beyond the grave also… Que sera.

They did the best with what was left, but, from about Episode 9 the whole thing was wearing thin. The requisite once-an-episode victim tally couldn’t fill a whole 45 minutes’ worth and flashback padding and drawn out scenes of paranoia and people walking around the woods with shotguns were getting a bit tiresome. Ergo, a mostly successful try at something different for TV but I think this might be the last we see of this format.

I liked the cast a lot, Elaine Cassidy was a good, if not standardized final girl with the usual set of issues and she was backed by some good talent. Here are the blurbs-of-interest for the roster: Katie Cassidy (Trish) was the heroine in the remake of Black Christmas and was also in the remake of When a Stranger Calls; Gina Holden (Shea) was one of the rollercoaster victims in Final Destination 3; both Brandon Jay McLaren (Danny) and Ben Cotton (Shane) were in Scar 3D; Claudette Mink (Katherine) was in both Children of the Corn: Revelation and Return to Cabin by the Lake; Chris Gauthier was one of the rave victims in Freddy vs. Jason and Richard Burgi appeared in Hostel Part II and the Friday the 13th reboot.

THE WISHER

thewisherTHE WISHER

1.5 Stars  2002/15/83m

“Cut to your worst nightmare.”

A.k.a. Spliced

Director: Gavin Wilding / Writer: Ellen Cook / Cast: Liane Balaban, Ron Silver, Drew Lachey, Siri Baruc, Melissa Repka, Kara Genaro.

Body Count: 4


Mary is a high-schooler obsessed with horror movies and often wakes up outside the front of her house after a nightmare – the best of which opens the film and involves a birthday cake with a rather gory filling. Mmmm.

Her shrink (Silver) blames horror films, as does her Dad. Forbidden from seeing another scary movie by her Pop, Mary sneaks out to see The Wisher – a budget slasher flick that has been at the top of the box office for weeks (check out the cinema where it’s playing on several screens whilst Halloween: Resurrection is only on one!) and is rumoured to be the grisliest horror flick going. After chucking up dinner at the movie, Mary’s life is worsened when her dad is killed in a car accident on his way to pull her out of the theater. We know it’s a bit more suss than ‘just a car crash’ though, don’t we, eh?

Nobody believes the guilt-ridden teen when she says there’s someone following her, someone made-up like the film’s titular character, granting her wishes in a twisted way, e.g. Mary wants her friend to shut up and the chick’s tongue is cut out by the maniac, who wears Freddy-like gloves with shards of glass on the fingertips.

Good concept, but the film plods on without enough stab and drip and by the end only two characters are dead, and the killer unsuccessfullygoes after Mary and her friends before sa so-called ‘twist’ right out of the equally rubbish Wishmaster comes into play and saves the day. The heroine has supposedly seen everything going in the horror realm, yet she falls for the oldest cliches in the book and can’t figure out who the killer is. Especially dumb as the perp virtually wears a T-shirt with ‘I Am the Killer! Ask Me How!’ printed on it.

The film wins a few bonus points for poking fun at the whole ‘violence in cinema’ issue with hardly a drop of subtlety, it’s too bad the screenwriter didn’t devote as much enthusiasm in knocking off some of the annoying cas members and making it more decisively a stalk n’ slash opus. Cool tagline though.

Blurbs-of-interest: Liane Balaban was in the Maniac remake. Ron Silver was also in Silent Rage. Gavin Wilding directed Christina’s House.

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