Tag Archives: weird-ass twist

Write and Wrong

YOU CAN’T KILL STEPHEN KING

2.5 Stars  2012/15/79m

“It was a mistake to visit his lake.”

Directors: Monroe Mann, Ronnie Khalil, Jorge Valdes-Iga / Writers: Mann, Khalil, & Bob Madia / Cast: Monroe Mann, Ronnie Khalil, Crystal Arnette, Kayle Blogna, Kate Costello, Justin Brown, Jason Martin, Polly Humphreys, John Mancini.

Body Count: 5


Admittedly, I was filled with a case of the “ugh’s” when I encountered this film… The title alone made me want to dry swallow balled-up barbed wire, but after watching the trailer on YouTube, it didn’t look like it was going to be 80 minutes of Samsung phone-shot lesbianism and ketchup squirts… It looks like it might have taken the wise decision to go down the comedy route.

Indeed, You Can’t Kill Stephen King opens with this rather lovely vista:

…which helps. I like lakes with lots of lush, green trees around the perimeter.

After the obligatory murder of a hot girl in the woods, we meet our primary cast of five ‘young people’ off to stay in the lakeside cabin they’ve inherited in the same town that Stephen King reportedly resides in, somewhere in Maine.

So, the film kinda starts with on a Scary Movie plain with an establishing shot for each of the quintet:

Other than Lamont, we have PTSD-suffering ex-soldier Monroe, his serious sister Hilary, his ex-girlfriend Lori, his King-obsessed virginal buddy Ronnie, and requisite dim-witted hot girl, Nicole.

They stop at a diner where they are advised to go party elsewhere by the waitress, then rent a boat where they are advised to go wakeboarding elsewhere by the boat-rental guy, then they have fun on the lake where they are reprimanded for going too fast by a waterborne cop. Seems as though everyone wants it to be peace and quiet.

Before long, a shadowy figure begins offing the group one by one and Ronnie begins to suspect whomever is doing it is aping scenes from Stephen King stories and only comes after them when they’re being loud.

The dwindling group set about trapping the killer, whom by this point Ronnie suspects is Stephen King, and things kind’ve lumber towards a revelation not too far removed from the climax of Hot Fuzz.

Production unities are higher than expected from both the DVD cover and title, but the film begins to shed its comedy tag towards the end and plays out like any other straight-to-video dead teenager film of late and the jokes all but disappear.

I’m weary of any film where there are A). multiple directors and B). said directors award themselves the lead roles. This results in a sort of limelight hogging that sees all the girls summarily wasted, without a final girl figure to speak of. Final boys hardly ever work as it is.

Some funny parts and plenty of tropes, most of which work better in the two minute trailer (“fog… and more fog!”), a couple of good lines, but – for the first half at least – a sense of fun and frolic. That title though…

And remember, even Stephen King couldn’t make a good Stephen King movie.

Horror schmorror

HEEBIE JEEBIES

1 Stars  2004/18/89m

“Scarier than hell!”

Directors: Doug Evans & Michael Hawkins-Burgos / Writers: Doug Evans & J.J. Shebesta / Cast: Bobbie Jo Westphal, Michael Hawkins-Burgos, Angela Kane, Reaca Pearl, Jeff Lee, Doug Evans, Vanessa Yuille, Jonathan Wainwright.

Body Count: 10


A bizarre horror anthology strung together against the backdrop of a gory little slasher opus.

Main character Cassie can dream the future, proven by forecasting the murder of her mother years earlier. Having experienced dreams concerning some old high school friends, she takes the most ridiculous action conceivable and invites them to a bogus reunion at a dilapidated house in the middle of nowhere: the perfect location for an all-out stalk n’ slash-a-thon.

We take intermittent detours into Cassie’s nightmares, which range from the acceptably strange (a sibling’s prank on his sister that goes too far) to head-scratchingly ludicrous (rock-monsters that come to life in the dark) via the mundanely twisted (a hit and run accident that gets progressively worse for the driver…)

Meanwhile, the teens in the house under-react to the rising body count, as they’re decapitated and hacked one by one. Ultimately, the coda wraps it up neatly enough, but the vignettes are so leftfield that it pulls the rug right out from under the confused viewer’s tootsies. Annoying more than anything.

Say what!?

SCARED

3.5 Stars  2005/82m

Director/Writer:  Pakphum Wonqjinda / Writer:  Prachya Pinkaew / Cast: Borvornipoch Jaikunta, Napapa Tantrakul, Chitjun Rujiphan, Amonphan Gongtragan, Sumonrat Wattanaselarat, Thandthai Auramornrat, Wongtep Kunrattanawat, Sudprach Aungtrakul, Park Wannasiri.

Body Count: 18


Detailing the plot of this grisly Thai dead-teenager flick could prove problematic, ’cause the DVD has no English subtitles, despite the film itself coming with English translations of the credits.

A large group of freshmen students set off on a hazing trip, which runs into entry problems and they foolishly follow the advice of a local vagrant who knows of a bridge they can cross to their destination. About half the kids decide to give it a go and end up stranded when the rickety old bridge collapses, taking their bus, the driver, and several of their friends to the bottom of the river…

 

scaredcollage4

Clambering ashore and splitting into two groups after some kind of disagreement amongst themselves, three boys quickly fall into a variety of lethal traps that skewer and impale them. The other, larger group (mostly girls) finds a deserted old town, but also cross paths with a brutal killer, who uses car windows, exhaust fumes, and regular garden tools to do them in – nearly every slaying here is bloody.

Thailand has taken a few ‘stabs’ at creating gory slashfests before, ranging from the entertaining but cheap 999-9999, to the predictable and dull Crying Tree. Scared is probably their best effort yet, fusing ideas lifted from the Final Destination films (the bridge collapse is well choreographed, with a nasty pole-through-the-face for the unlucky bus driver), old school kids-in-the-woods slashers, and ending in a cruel twist that’s reminiscent of Battle Royale.

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There are some memorable gore-drenched moments, especially when the shyer kids fight back: A girl goes for a maniac with a corn-saw, clearly having seen enough violence for one day.

The lack of subtitles and linguistic differences mean that characters become indistinguishable when we don’t really know their names in the first place, though there are some genuinely sad moments as kids find their dead friends and weep for them, but with a plot this simple, you’ll be having such a good time you won’t even notice!

The horror of… The Unexplainedening!

ROOM 33

1.5 Stars  2009/92m

“A ghostly presence has awoken.”

Director/Writer: Eddie Barbini / Writer: Donnie Dale / Cast: Nina Hauser, Austin Highsmith, Chad Collins, Adam Key, Dee Kevin Ace Gibson, Kim Manning, Olivia Leigh, Nicole Dionne.

Body Count: 9

Laughter Lines: “This place ain’t right, man! Can’t you feel it?”


In life, points for trying rarely get you anywhere – and the same is sadly true of this Los Angeles-lensed supernatural slasher flick, which looks like it was shot waaaay earlier than 2009 and stirs up best forgotten memories of Doom Asylum. Brrrrr.

Because Room 33 opts for what I’ll call “the generic approach”, here’s a checklist to make sure it covers the expected bases of its genre:

  • A group of (mostly) attractive young people are going somewhere in a van
  • Something happens that strands them far from assistance
  • Said location is shared with a creepy old place for them to take shelter for the night
  • Thereafter, members of the group find various reasons to venture off on their own
  • Death! Death! Death!

In the case of Room 33, our group is comprised of a team of three roller-derby chicks, their coach, and driver dude, and a couple who’ve hit a tree and need a ride. The reason for their enstrandening is they’re outta gas, and the nearest thing is a disused mental institution.

They later find a crazed girl running about and soon they’re spooked, some go outside to find the girl who went to practice her skating (in the middle of a road), and a teleporting man in black crops up and murders some of them off-camera. The others find their friends sans eyes, requisite macho-asshole character (a girl!) blames the girl, fall outs ensue…

In the final third, Room 33 goes a bit weird. Well weirder. The titular location is not mentioned until 64 minutes in and even then, its significance is never clarified. I’m not even sure anybody even goes there. More people turn up, some of them die, then the villains well… I’m not sure. Were they real? Unfortunately, I watched this only in the company of my dog, who, though more enthralled than I, seemed perplexed by it as well.

So it’s a bit like Doom Asylum, part Savage Lust, with a touch of Session 9 (just a touch, mind, don’t go blaming me if you think it’ll be as good), and a whole side order of What-the-Fuck!? I didn’t hate it, just had no frickin’ clue what was supposed to be happening and then it just sorta…ended.

Blurb-of-interest: Austin Highsmith was later in Scream – The TV Series (Season 2).

Catfishing

SMILEY

2.5 Stars  2012/15/92m

“Evil wears a smile.”

Director/Writer: Michael Gallagher / Writer: Glasgow Phillips / Cast: Caitlin Gerard, Melanie Papalia, Shane Dawson, Andrew James Allen, Roger Bart, Liza Weil, Keith David, Toby Turner, Michael Traynor, Jana Winternitz, Nikki Limo.

Body Count: 6

Laughter Lines: “If you believe everything you’ve told us, you need to see a psychiatrist.” / “I AM seeing a psychiatrist!”


“Over 30 million trailer views” boasts the UK DVD box. Fine, but there’s a Justin Bieber song that has had over 917 million views – does that attest to the quality of his music “music”?

Given this claim, it must be doing something right and, as the disc began a-whirlin’ in my DVD player, it looked like Smiley could “do a Mask Maker” and surprise the hell outta me by being, y’know, awesome. “But 2-and-a-half stars!” you say, “it can’t be that good?” ‘Tis a tale of woe, that be true… One that unfortunately must contain SPOILERS to convey the emotion found in this yarn.

Bloody Mary, the Candyman, Madman Marz – say their name any number of times and something bad will happen. So go the respective urban legends, why not add Smiley to that motley crew? How about because it’s all a big cheat…

So goes this cyber-myth, log into any old chatroom – preferably one with a cam-to-cam facility – and engage in chatter with a stranger. Type “I did it for the lulz” three times consecutively and Smiley will pop up their end and KILLIFY THEM!

‘Lulz’, for those grammar pedants among us, is cyber/text/Twitter slang for ‘merriment’ usually at the expense of another. Why and psycho would latch on to such poor spiel is a mystery the film refuses to investigate. Why not ‘I did it for the jollity’ or the ‘gaiety’?

Anyway, this befalls the usual teen babysitter and, in another place and time, college girl Ashley (Gerard) moves into new digs with perky roomie Proxy (Papalia), who introduces her to a group of anonymous web-pranksters and their quirky brand of humour, including the legend of Smiley, which nobody knows to be true or not.

Later, Ashley and Proxy choose to put the theory to test with a horny naked guy, who ends up getting stabbed in the chest after Ashley types the dreaded phrase in thrice. Was it real? How could it not have been if it’s a randomized chat site?

Ashley soon begins seeing Smiley everywhere. Nobody believes her kerr-ayzay story and repeatedly tell her to forget about it and not tempt fate by snooping. Her ____ teacher (Bart), fills his students’ heads with all sorts of theory regarding higher intellect and the possibility that we create our own fate yaddah yaddah. All of this influence begins driving the girl mad and, when members of the anonymous group begin dying, she tries to convince the cops of the legend (see Laughter Lines).

Eventually, Ashley decides the only way to stop Smiley is to have him summoned to her, so she gets Proxy to, over a video chat, type ‘I did it for the lulz’ and face her fate.

Didn’t this gag used to read “Aren’t you glad you didn’t turn on the light?”

But no. Smiley comes. Then more Smileys. Ashley takes a fatal dive through her window and they all unmask themselves – the anonymous web people. It was all some social experiment-cum-joke that they hoped to spread over the net.

If you’ve seen Cry_Wolf then this outcome will be totally new territory, only here it’s even more annoying because, up to this point, Smiley was a pretty good horror film, kinda like Candyman Jr: The College Years, all meta’d up with ATRL/YouTube-speak and a post-Scream 4 “I just want to be known” vibe on behalf of the horrible group of students we wish would DIE!

Naturally, the last-second twist is that the legend IS real after all, nothing anybody with half a brain wouldn’t have seen coming.

A real disappointment of a project in the end. Whatever social comment was trying to be made is ruined both by the unpleasantness of the characters and their cruelty, and then re-ruined by the stupid second-twist. Essentially it’s saying “It’s not real! The horror is made up because people are gullible! Oh no wait, it IS real now!” and then not punishing the whole lot of them.

Two stars are for production quality and some performances and quirky dialogue, another half for being interesting enough for the most part. All other stars were lost somewhere in cyberspace. Yeah, ha ha, I’m funny – must be that I did it for the lulz.

I did it for the lulz.

I did it for the lulz.

Blurb-of-interest: Keith David was in Chain Letter – another urban legend slasher flick.

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