Tuesday, March 26, 2013

REVIEW: The Croods (2013)

Animated CGI kids films are all the rage, and why shouldn’t they be? They’re profitable as hell, and these days they’ve gotten some serious street cred after films like Ratatouille, Up and last year’s luminous Wreck It Ralph have made the genre into a veritable powerhouse. No longer just for kids and silly slapstick, these days the genre boasts stories that are friendly for kids as well as compelling for adults, finding a perfect balance between good natured humor and good storytelling that anyone can enjoy. It’s a perfect commercial formula and it produces great films, like The Croods.

Director: Kirk De Micco, Chris Sanders
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds

This movie, telling the story of a family of cavemen who go on a journey to ‘the new world’ as the tectonic plates shift and throw their current world into oblivion, is drop dead hilarious. Where Wreck It Ralph and others like ParaNorman focused more on the blend of comedy with adventure and drama, The Croods is all about the comedy. The drama comes in later, and they are on an adventure, but the jokes are so prominent and so good. Every minute, the theater was busting out in laughter. The comedic timing is great and the jokes are almost all killer. Right in the opening scene you get the whole family running around trying to catch food, and Nicolas Cage (we’ll get to him in a moment) yells out “LET OUT THE BABY!” And then, well, the baby comes out roaring and biting and all.

Everything in this movie is high-speed, energetic and colorful, which adds to the excitement. It’s a very vibrant film, but while busy, it never comes off as cluttered and everything has its rightful place in each scene. Very well put together. There are also all sorts of clever little bits where the film claims that the Croods are the reason we have things we take for granted – pictures, rugs, even hugs…apparently the Croods invented all of these things on their journey in this very movie. These are all just minor bits that come and go quickly, and they’re very well integrated into the rest of the film. And they’re very funny, which is always a plus…

The acting is pretty damn good, featuring Emma Stone as lead girl Eep, who is a rebellious and single-minded woman who can do things on her own…well, Emma Stone is pretty much typecast in this role now, and The Croods nails it, right down to the ‘tough girl but still needs a boyfriend’ trope. And said boyfriend role is filled by Ryan Reynolds as Guy, in probably the first thing I’ve ever liked him in. Guy is a timid but intelligent young man who unwittingly steals Grug (Nicolas Cage…again, we’ll get to him)’s family away from him, and incites the whole movie when the family takes him hostage on their road trip to find a new home, thinking him useful.

Okay, well it’s time to address the elephant in the room here…yes, Nicolas Cage is in this movie, and he is hilarious. He plays Grug, the father of the cavemen who feels threatened by the new world full of ideas and progression, instead preferring to keep hiding in his cave. I haven’t seen Cage having so much fun with a film in years. While most of his recent roles have tended to be more somber in nature even when the movies themselves got silly, The Croods sees a return to his silliest, most over the top performances. While I can’t say the movie would have been improved by adding in some Vampire’s Kiss-esque insanity…

Uh, I think you mean "I'M A CAVEMAN! I'M A CAVEMAN!" But I digress. It IS suitably insane, and the cartoony nature of it all just makes sense, don’t you think? I mean, Nicolas Cage is already a cartoon character in every aspect aside from the fact that he’s three dimensional and resides in our world. Thank God this movie fixes that problem.

There’s a great scene near the climax where Grug, after being cast out as his family prefers staying with Guy over him, spends the night thinking of ideas. When they encounter him the next day…well, it’s pretty loony and involves him skipping around with an ugly octopus-shaped rug on his head, sunglasses on his face that he can’t see out of, and lots of slapstick. I should be annoyed at how much slapstick there is in this, but it’s all really well done and is actually funny, which is something a lot of movies seem to miss. “Slapstick” isn’t an excuse for laziness.

Of course there is the expected dramatic turn toward the end, too, and I won’t spoil it. But for all its humorous moments, the film does know how to turn down the dial a bit and work the heartstrings, producing some very fine, dramatic moments even if they do get kind of predictable. Just for once I’d love to see a film like this go the extra mile and have something really dark happen – instead of the main character looking like he’s dead and then ending up living happily ever after, why doesn’t one of these films actually have him die and stay that way? But it’s wishful thinking.

I also think it’s interesting that, really, the film belongs to Grug the most. It appears at the start that Eep will be the main character, as she gets the most development at first and is the one who sets the chain of events in motion, but in the end she sort of takes a backseat, becoming a more generic female character for this type of movie. Which is a bit disappointing, but then, on the other hand, Grug is a great character and a lot of fun to watch him develop. I’m not a father, but I like the way the movie portrays fatherhood – at first he seems grumpy and even mean at times, but he really does have his family’s best interests at heart and he does have the capacity to change. It’s a genuinely good character arc, and one of the better parts of the film.

So that’s The Croods, and without spoiling too much, I think it’s really good. It’s a bucket full of fun and has some good drama as well, with lively performances and great mise en scene throughout. It’s just a solid, enjoyable animated flick and anyone who has a heart will probably find something to enjoy in it. So what are you waiting for? Go watch it. Go watch it now.

Images and videos in this review do not belong to me; they are copyright of their original owner.

Friday, March 22, 2013

REVIEW: Don't Go in the Woods (2010)

Wow, just wow. I don’t think I’ve seen something this beautifully insane and wrongheaded since The Stuff smacked me in the face last year around this time. I mean, what am I supposed to say? If the words “slasher musical” don’t sound perfectly batshit nuts to you, then perhaps this film will finally find its audience in some blissfully ignorant minority. A blissfully ignorant minority, however, that I want no part of whatsoever. Please, if this sounds like your type of movie, stay the hell away from me. And from the rest of humanity.

Director: Vincent D'Onofrio
Starring: Matt Sbegelia, Ali Tobia

Yes, Don’t Go in the Woods, the only film directed by sort of famous actor Vincent D’Onofrio, and frankly, I think he should go back to the drawing board a bit. I mean…a slasher musical. I’m not even making that up – it’s a slasher film, and most of the runtime that would normally be taken up by a bunch of indie rock ass-hats playing bland, uninteresting and sometimes actually ear-splitting-awful music. The ideas in this film, the choices made…I just don’t understand. It’s like a strange Frankenstein’s Monster-esque abomination of epic proportions. It’s one thing to make a horrendous generic slasher movie, but quite another to take the basic format of a slasher movie and then…do whatever D’Onofrio did here.

Alright, well I’m never going to convey exactly how strange this is by simply raving about it like a madman. I’m going to have to actually talk about it, aren’t I? Oh, God. I’m actually going to have to look at this film again? The horror!

Eh, I’m over it now.

We start off with this title card:

Well, allow me to retort by turning my volume down to a moderate level. Take that, you damn movie! I rebelled by turning my volume down to an inoffensively quiet tone so as to not bother the neighbors! I'm such a badass.

We then are introduced to a bunch of idiots in a car singing to some truly horrible hybrid of acoustic rock, reggae and Beatles-style pop. I would post some sound clips, but I actually want people to keep reading the rest of the review, so I’ll just skip it. Safe to say, it’s bad. It’s really bad. Not all of the music in this movie is this bad, but the opening song will even make your pets cover their ears in agony. Christ. These guys really need some weed…

What? The lead guy in the band just threw the weed out the window? The audacity of this prick…they bought that from a perfectly decent drug dealer behind a K-Mart that morning. And really, the rock band doesn’t want weed? That’s how Black Sabbath and Pink Floyd made most of their best albums back in the day! Somehow I’m not convinced these guys are really in tune with the spirit of rock. And even beyond that, if there's no weed, how is the movie's slasher killer going to have a reason to hack them up? These morons better have a lot of sex out in the woods to make up for this indiscretion!

So apparently their plan is just to…go out into the woods and play music for a while, hoping to come back with some of the best songs ever that can get them a record deal. Apparently some record exec douche-face is coming out to join them for some reason – I guess having a corporate presence breathing down their necks would help the songwriting process? But he gets killed off, and they never even ask about him again for the rest of the damn movie, so I guess D’Onofrio just forgot all about it…

Oh, there's a sign that says the title of the movie right when they're going in? Who put it there? And why? I NEED ANSWERS TO THESE QUESTIONS...nah, I'm over it. Still though, a more accurate sign would have read DON'T WATCH THIS MOVIE.

While that’s going on, the lead singer guy, Nick, takes all of their cell phones and smashes them with an ax. You may think this is too extreme. However…well, no, it is too extreme. But at least we also get to see a crazy man chopping up one of his shoes into little bits.

And the weird thing is, there’s no reason for it. Even after he does it, Nick, otherwise a complete insensitive ass throughout the film, is like “dude, why did you do that?” And there’s never a reason given. It’s like D’Onofrio and the production team just gave the guy an ax and he chopped up his shoe impromptu in a fit of madness, without it being scripted at all. Maybe it’s not a good idea to hire crazy people off the streets, D’Onofrio. Just saying.

Later on, Mr. Ax Chop Man steps on a little leaf and somehow gets a gigantic bloody welt on his foot…which is also never made anything of, and he goes on to seduce a bunch of beautiful women. Presumably while trailing blood on the ground and wincing every time he has to take a step. But we’ll get to that.

No, really what makes up the bulk of this movie is the songs. Yes, the rumors were true, a bona fide slasher musical. What planet am I on? Since most of these parts are just long, repetitive segments of bland music broken up by even more nonsensical scenes that actually TRY to be a musical, it’s tough to really go all play-by-play on these scenes. However, I will say that the main guy, Nick, has a voice about as endearing as a tone deaf drunk man with laryngitis. He can’t stay on key and mostly just sounds completely awful and heinous. And we’re supposed to believe people actually listen to this guy and unironically think he’s good…maybe they’re all tone deaf, and that’s the movie’s twist at the end.

Please, please, please follow the path of Kurt Cobain rather than that of Nikki Sixx...

So despite the fact that the guys agreed to come out in the woods in solitude and write music, with nothing to distract them…a bunch of girls come and crash the party, bringing weed and loud, fun times with them – basically everything Nick said they wouldn’t have at the beginning. I’m so glad they explained what they were doing to these girls, so that they would not do exactly this. Oh, wait, I’m just being sarcastic for no reason again. Nick and his band of morons didn’t do that at all. Oh how I love the human ability to communicate. It isn’t just for singing pointless songs in a terrible slasher movie anymore!

Yeah, whatever's in that flask with the skull and crossbones on it would probably be great right now. Please, pass it over!

Either way, at least there’s some tits in the movie now; that oughta brighten it up. Even if this one girl does look sort of like a female Filipino version of Sid Vicious. And what’s this? She’s the only talented singer in the entire film?

Color me surprised!

No, really. Color me surprised.

So of course she gets killed off a few scenes later, along with the other girl who is mad that one of the guys, I’m not sure who (and do you really care?) who she was dating, is now with someone else. They go off into the woods and she starts singing, apparently under the assumption that she’s a cast member in The Sound of Music, performed by talentless people. They even superimpose her face over the top of the scene like a low-budget music video.

There's a joke about that 'o' face in here somewhere, but I'm not crass enough to make it, so I'll let you supply your own.

What is this? Surely it’s not a horror movie. I mean, D’Onofrio, man…half the time I do movies like this, by this point in the review, I’m already knee-deep in the murders going on, as well as the plotholes involved in said murders. What the hell am I watching here? Movie, if REPO: The Genetic Opera is outdoing your script in terms of making sense, there’s something seriously wrong!

Okay, well anyway. They get into a car and, for no reason at all, they get killed off by a man wearing black, who takes the time first to smash their car up with a sledgehammer. He spends more time doing that then he does actually killing the girls! And trust me, I’m not planning on going all bleeding-hearts on you guys this time. I fully support killing off people who participated in this movie. However, I do not support the needless wreckage of vehicles. Think of how many red lights that car could have run!

Just imagine the person who spent money on that car and had it appear in this movie. I think car dealerships everywhere are cringing in their sleep, as if someone walked over their graves...

Also, seriously? You don’t even have the budget to show the gore, so you just cut to black as soon as any contact is made? I’m starting to see why D’Onofrio put so much music in this: he didn’t have any money to shoot actual gory slasher kill scenes. Maybe you should have just scrapped the idea to make this a movie, and directed a high school production of West Side Story, dude.

Meanwhile, back at the Hitler Youth Indie Rock Band Camp, Nick wakes everyone up by splashing fizzy soda pop into their tents. It’s nice to know Vincent D’Onofrio, previously a star of Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket, never quite left boot camp:

"Are you quitting on me? Well, are you? Then quit, you slimy fucking walrus-looking piece of shit! Get the fuck off of my obstacle! Get the fuck down off of my obstacle! NOW! MOVE IT! Or I'm going to rip your balls off, so you cannot contaminate the rest of the world! I will motivate you, Private Pyle, IF IT SHORT-DICKS EVERY CANNIBAL ON THE CONGO!" - the kind of motivation this movie really needed, but never got...shame.

As long as this movie ends with Nick splattering his brains out in a bathroom after realizing his failure as a human being, I’m totally fine with it.

So, in any other movie, they’d at least notice the disappearance of the two girls and investigate it, right? Not this movie! They just go right on practicing, never even mentioning the girls again save for a cursory ‘hey, they said they were going to a hotel! Must be why they never tried to contact us or anything, right? Oh well. Just let em get kidnapped and raped.’ What a bunch of great friends. You know what else makes them great friends? The fact that they constantly make fun of the one blind guy in the band.

He sings a song called "I Don't Wanna Be Blind." Guess what it's about. That's right, it's about filing taxes.

And it’s not even like they’re creative with the jokes! Constantly, they just sort of point out that he’s blind. That’s the whole joke – he can’t see. Hilarious, right? Dudes, it’s not that funny. If you want to make some blind jokes, fine, but at least put some thought into it! It’s like walking up to a guy with a lisp and just going “HEY! YOU TALK SORTA FUNNY!” And then repeating that same joke every time you see him for the next three years. C’mon, movie; try better than Bulk and Skull-levels of bullying.

Man, you know what this movie needs? Some people getting murdered. That would lighten up the mood.

So, after about fifteen more minutes of nothing but songs that you won’t even remember a few seconds after they end…we get some trite romance going on, between Nick and this girl, who apparently slept with him once. Isn’t this exactly what you want to see when you pop in a DVD titled Don’t Go in the Woods? Well, I’ll give it some credit – it is closer to what a regular horror movie would do, so maybe D’Onofrio is finally getting to the damn point here.

Good, good, now have her fuck Nick and then have them both impaled with a hockey stick or something. Then you'd be on the right track for a slasher film.

Well, eventually it does finally happen. The kills, while rather terrible, do start to happen. Even if most of them are just cutting to black before we see any blood, like this one, which brings back the hallowed ‘sleeping bag kill’ popularized by Jason X!

It's a lost art in slasher movies.

There's also this scene, in which this one foreign girl and the girl who's trying to teach her English sing about...well, pretty much teaching a foreign girl English. It's a silly subject matter for a song, but when these girls do it? It's just flat out embarrassing, as they embellish the whole thing with ludicrous voices, stupid facial expressions and awful, awful melodies...seriously, you can just hear their careers, and by extension their hopes and dreams, dying with every note:

Aren't those the kinds of faces girls make in really horrible niche German porno movies?

After some more poorly filmed kill scenes, it’s just Nick and his kinda-sorta-girlfriend left alive, as Nick shows us how he can play a song so terrible that it makes him start bleeding from his neck and hands!

I…really have no idea what this is supposed to convey. Seriously, go watch this yourself; it’s on Netflix. Have a field day with it. Maybe some of the more pretentious among you will come back with some interpretation of this that makes sense. Is he killing himself? Is it all really in the girl’s head? Is the entire movie some kind of warped Lynchian subtext for the state of the music industry? I dunno. All I know is, THIS MUSIC IS TERRIBLE! He sings worse than William Hung if he had lead bricks strapped to his ears and his nuts were in a vice! It’s terrible!

After that, Nick jumps in the water. Nice way to ruin a good guitar there, you moron. He then gets out of the water and has a battle with the masked killer, who looks more like a Victorian England Gentleman cosplay if it was, well, a slasher movie killer doing that...

After killing him, the movie cuts to black and then shows us a very short scene where Nick is sitting with some record producer who holds up a CD that says Nick’s name and has the title Don’t Go in the Woods. The producer then says, “All you had to do [to get famous] was get rid of that band.” And that’s the end.

Uh, what? Am I supposed to glean some A-HA! moment from this? Is that supposed to be a twist? So he basically killed off his bandmates, or hired someone to kill them off…so he could record his own music and get famous off of it? Isn’t that a bit overkill? Not to mention the gaping plothole of the fact that no sane record label, that wanted to keep making money, would ever hire this guy. Here’s a novel idea: if you don’t like your band and don’t want to make music with them…QUIT THE GODDAMN BAND. GO SOLO. Anything! Anything as long as we don’t have to listen to more of your god-awful music!

So it makes sense that the end credits involve more of the same ear-splitting yowling and bland acoustic guitars as the rest of the movie had…that’s it; I’m convinced this is a lost level of Hell. There is no way anyone could have intended this to be enjoyable; it’s too horrendous, too maniacally unlistenable to any normal pair of ears!

So that’s Don’t Go in the Woods, and it’s…well, it’s special. There really is nothing else like this movie out there, and there’s a reason for that: it’s terrible. The acting is subpar, the story is a mess, and most of the movie is just these morons playing their rather unimpressive music. Once in a while, the songs don’t sound too bad, but is ‘not bad’ really the ideal standard to hold?

There was really no budget for this thing, so it’s hard to really come down on it for that, but the whole thing is just such a spectacle to behold. It’s literally so insane an idea that it’s really just amazing to think about what the creative thought process must have been like to come up with it. A slasher musical…I can’t stop saying it. The words themselves are so curiously bizarre when placed together. And really, after all is said and done, this IS at least trying to do something, even though it failed horribly at it. While it was a trainwreck, Don’t Go in the Woods was at least doing its own thing and had a clear purpose in mind. Can we say the same for The Devil Inside or Black Dahlia? I don’t think so.

So am I saying this movie was good? Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. But I did find it at least interesting, and though D’Onofrio failed entirely at what he was trying to evoke, he at least tried, and there’s something to be said for that. So if you really want to see a musical slasher movie…go check yourself into a mental hospital. But if you want something interesting and experimental, if incredibly flawed, Don’t Go in the Woods wouldn’t be your worst choice ever. Maybe on the top 20 worst, but still, better than the majority of big budget horror films that came out last year. There is that.

The images in this review do not belong to me; they are copyright of their original owners.

Monday, March 11, 2013

REVIEW: The Road (2011)

The Road (2011) is not a Cormac McCarthy-based film about a post-apocalyptic world, but a wretched, miserable experience which causes me pain even to acknowledge that it even exists. I really can’t even tell you how bad this is and really convey it in full like actually watching it – there is too much horrendousness in this thing to do that; like a possession-ridden whore in a Satanic horror film. But unlike The Devil Inside, for example, this isn’t only stupid and pointless, but also relentlessly unpleasant, making the viewers feel ungodly depressed and making them want to kill themselves. Isn’t that just the goal of any successful film? If you said yes…well, what you’re thinking of is probably much different than the vomited-up hack work found in this film.

Director: Yam Laranas
Starring: TJ Trinidad, Carmina Villaroel

So the movie begins with a suicide…don’t all great movies? Isn’t that the best way to introduce a film that you can think of?

I’m serious, right from the start; a suicide. That’s the opening shot (ha ha…ha). Way to set the bar high, movie! We also see some shots of roads, which is the closest we’ll get to the title of the movie in this whole thing, so I guess we’ve already seen everything worthwhile it has to offer. Just turn it off now, and you’ll walk away with your sanity much more intact.

Oh, but of course! If I did that, we wouldn’t have a review. So I guess I’ll persevere. We next get introduced to a super-cool cop guy named Luis, who is getting a medal for all of his accomplishments, none of which will be shown or talked about in any kind of detail. So glad this part was in the movie! He gets pulled aside by a grief-stricken woman asking if they have found her missing daughters yet, to which he tells her they are still looking. Best cop ever, or best cop ever? I say the latter.

We then cut to a couple of kids who can’t be more than fifteen. They’re going out driving to teach the one girl how to drive in time for her test tomorrow. Guess it’s good they’re doing that then…what? You don’t wait until the night before your driving exam to even practice driving? You nerd!

So being that they’re not all that experienced, and it’s the middle of the night, you’d think they would just stick to a place they all know pretty well, right? Not these kids! They go out and find a creepy deserted road in the middle of nowhere that clearly none of them is very familiar with. What a bunch of dumbasses. I sure hope they don’t run into the Jeepers Creepers monster on this road:

There’s also a ton of dialogue about how the boy apparently cheated on the girl by kissing some other girl. Dude, these kids are like fourteen or fifteen! How do they have this level of drama already? I guess this kid is growing up to be Josh Hartnett in The Black Dahlia. Christ…that’s all we need. More of that movie. Frankly, with the way this is going, I’m expecting one of the girls to kill him off and then sleep with his best friend, totally out of nowhere and without logic. Ugh.

But no, what happens in this movie is far worse actually, as we see these kids getting spooked out of their right minds in scenes that wouldn’t have even made it as bloopers in a movie like Dead End. They see some ghosts here and there, scream a lot, and keep on driving down the road and looking for the scary stuff anyway – isn’t that kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy?

"Hey, I think they have some great outtakes from Shutter on this road!"

I’ll give credit that one of the girls actually does call her father and ask him to come get them – that’s smarter than most characters in movies like this. But it just comes down to, really, this is hideously unnecessary. What did these kids do to deserve what they get here? Yes, terrible things happen to innocent kids all the time in real life. But, for one, this isn’t real life, because there are all kinds of supernatural things going on. And two, this is a movie, and it doesn’t have to just relentlessly depict the realistic world without any dramatization. There can be catharsis for these horrible things; there can be rights to balance out the wrongs. There are well done examples of how to depict the harsh cruelty of the world, but this movie isn’t one of them. The effect here is not dramatic, not shocking, but just incredibly unpleasant and needlessly grotesque.

At first I thought, well, okay, so they’re showing these horrific deaths and the rest of the movie will be about Luis the super cop trying to solve what happened, right? No, actually not. Actually, this is the last damn time we really see anything to do with these characters for a long, long time in the film, and the last time ever that the story is solely focused on them. You unholy abomination of ass.

No, what we actually get is a sort of collection of stories, going back ten years each time chronologically. Like Memento if it was written by a depressed Hannibal Lector. The next story we get is set in the late 90s, where two young girls are driving along the road talking about boys – because, you know, girls have nothing else going on in their lives ever besides boys. Their car breaks down and they are approached by a silent young man who tells them he can help them. Instead of doing the smart thing and just waiting at the car while telling him to go get his supplies by himself, like idiots they just follow him through the dark, isolated woods to a place where nobody knows they are. Is it any bit a surprise when he knocks them out and kidnaps them in his big, dark house?

Are you loving the color scheme yet? Either it's blinding contrasting oranges, browns and greens or grim and dark like the inside of a septic tank after a year abandoned.

The next twenty minutes or so is nothing but dark, grimy walls and the two sweet, innocent girls who did nothing wrong crying and in pain. It would be one thing if we got more character development, if the film took time to set up some atmosphere or even just tell the very basics of a real narrative, but no; it’s just that. There aren’t any real scares and there is really no point to anything going on beyond showing us how screwed up this kid is.

Like this scene – he keeps the younger girl locked in a closet and then drags her downstairs, tied up and crying her eyes out, so he can beat the shit out of her, throw her head against a wall, and, it is implied, rape her afterwards. Real nice, movie!

What? What point does this death serve to the story? What does it establish beyond 'HUR HUR HEY HE'S A SUPER COOL SERIAL KILLER, GUYS!'? Go to hell you despicable piece of shit movie.

I am so glad you showed us this scene, for really, what would our lives have been without seeing this horrific abomination against human decency? I am simply blown away by how brutal and shocking this all is, because truly that is what makes a good horror film, and not atmosphere, tension or build-up. Please, keep the unpleasantness coming!

Oh, like this scene, where the other girl makes her way outside and finds her friend/sister/whatever she was dead, bloody and tied up in a hole in the ground, even falling down right next to her face. Aren’t scenes like this just the bread and butter of modern horror? The very foundations on which to build the next logical progression of the genre?

Maybe they did something to deserve this in a past life...? Nah, trying to rationalize this unsalvageable crap in any way is just pointless. It's still crap.

Yup, and that’s the end of the story! Misery, torment and hell for these girls who did nothing to anyone in their entire lives! Isn't that great? Onto the next raping of our senses with needless violence with no purpose!

Yes, the next story is about that kid when he was a child. If you were among the very small percentile of viewers who wondered why he locked that girl in a closet in the last segment, this one will explain it. Apparently when he was a kid, his mom would lock him in the closet for hours just because some chick outside talked to him for a minute. Does that make sense? No? Well tough. It’s all we’re gonna get.

Look at that expression on her goddamn face. How perfectly horrible. Like she's permanently smelling a manure truck all the time.

That’s another problem with this film…it’s just so simplistic and banal that there really isn’t much to gain from all the shit they’re throwing at us. All we get is explanations for stuff that happened in the other scenes, like, why do all the ghosts appear with sheets wrapped around their heads? Why does he lock girls in closets? And then the movie just shows you, from point A to point B, no actual drama or interesting stuff involved at all. It’s a very elementary, almost insulting way to tell a story, made all the more idiotic by how awful the rest of the film is. This isn’t so much a story about a serial killer’s upbringing and history so much as it is a glorified Wikipedia entry about his life.

So, yeah, if you’re wondering what other great things are in store for us in this segment…how does seeing a little kid smacked around and forced to mop up the blood of a dead girl sound? What about seeing him cleaning up his father’s drunken vomit? Or his father dragging him outside and showing him the unfinished grave of his murdered mother after his father kills her? Yeah, isn’t that last one an astounding display of intellect? “Durr, hey, I’ll just leave the dead body out in the open where any moron can stumble upon it, call the police and get me thrown in jail for the rest of my life!” I’m guessing this father’s strong point in school wasn’t logistics.

Parenting: the easy way!
Parenting: the hard way!

Further points of mind-numbing idiocy involve the entire character of the mother (before she gets killed, obviously). She’s completely heartless, cruel and awful throughout the entire thing. To the point where I was questioning why the hell she even has kids or a family at all if all she’s going to do is smack them around, lock them in closets and shout at them – yeah, she does it to the father too! It’s like “I HATE KIDS! I HATE MEN! I THINK I’LL GET MARRIED AND HAVE A KID ANYWAY!” It’s stupid, imbecilic writing and whoever penned it needs a good punch in the throat.

Second, the father makes no sense. Yes, he’s a religious zealot and a bit of a pushover, but to the point of begging his abusive, cold, unrealistically cruel wife to stay with him out of a Christian duty of marriage? I’m sorry…I just don’t buy that! This woman is the Devil! Throw her ass out and take your kid and LEAVE, you whiny piece of shit! Aaaaaaggggghhhhhh!

Oh, and the father is so Christian, but then like a few scenes later, he kills his wife and then takes his own life via hanging, thus leaving his son to fend for himself? Truly a Christian man! Never has such a pious, devoted soul been seen on this Earth! God damn, is there any justice in this wretched pile of horribleness? Is there even one decent person to balance the scales and show us that maybe, just maybe, there is some semblance of reality in this whole thing at all?

Back in the present day, we figure out what most intelligent viewers have known since the first flashback – the messed up kid with the messed up home life grew up into that superstar cop who is investigating the dead girls now. Yup, the movie expects us to be surprised that Luis, the cop, is actually the same person as the killer/screwed up kid from the other parts of the film. Except for the fact that it was so damn obvious that the only way you wouldn’t have figured it out by this point is if you were just so brain-dead from the rest of the film that your thought process literally couldn’t comprehend it. I mean, God, just look at these pictures back to back:

How is that even a twist? It’s so obviously the same person! You’d have to be blind not to see it! That’s even kind of insulting to blind people…I’m sure if they could understand the language, they would get it pretty quick, too. So, really, since the twist sucks, we’re just left with the ground works of filmmaking to carry us through. Unfortunately for this film, the story, acting, characters and overall plot are about as appealing as the insides of a week-old hot pocket left underneath your couch. The effects, I guess, are pretty good, but the movie does nothing with them, and they’re just left sort of sitting there for only a split second at a time before the film cuts away from them. How are we supposed to get invested in that?

Oh well, maybe at least the film will do us SOME good and explain all the supernatural, gory scenes that pop up throughout the film…let’s continue our viewing, shall we?

So the one chick found alive from that car story in the beginning points out that Luis is the one who has been keeping her there hostage the whole time. Why he hasn’t killed her yet, I have no idea. The chief of police is suddenly surprised now, even though at the beginning of the movie he was all-guns-blazing in support of Luis. But now he says Luis’s name in a slightly foreboding tone, which prompts Luis to open fire and kill him instantly. If he’s so smart that he hasn’t been caught for all these years doing all of this shit, then HOW THE HELL is he this dumb? Why didn’t he just play dumb and pretend the girl was just hysterical and didn’t know what she was talking about? If he’s this trigger-happy, to the point where he’d just open fire at someone saying his name wrong, I find it hard to believe he would have lasted this long as a crazy serial killer. Movie, you have lost me on this one.

Also, it’s good to know that the Filipino police force hires guys with shady backgrounds who may or may not kill young girls in his free time. That’s a real stunning accolade for the Filipino police force. I’m sure they were elated to be portrayed this way…E-LATED!

Okay, so Luis is chased into the house by a few other cops. He knocks one of them down and then yanks his bedsheet off the bed to wrap around the guy’s head, similar to his other victims. I just love that for some reason. “You made me waste a perfectly good bedsheet! I bought that from Bed, Bath and Beyond, you sonovabitch!”

"Am I really...about to get killed...by a pillowsheet? Wow, this...sucks..."

He then goes outside, gets in his car and…is accosted by guilt over all the people he’s killed? Why? Oh, who cares, I’ve done enough ranting about the rest of the movie. Plus, at least he finally kills himself afterwards. That makes up for the rest of this movie, even if it’s only a little bit. I also love how the cops approach with caution even when they’re already looking in the mirror and can see that he shot himself. Plus, they must have heard the gunshot from that close…what, are they afraid his ghost will come back and kill them? Fair enough, I guess, since the rules of the supernatural shit in this movie are so lenient. I’d expect just about anything now.

"Stand back, men! He might be contagious!"

And that’s it. It just kind of ends with some more promotional shots for the Phillipines countryside. Pfft, yeah, imagine the promotional text to go along with that: “Welcome to the Phillipines! If our unpaved dirt roads don’t kill you, our police officers sure will!”

This movie is abhorrent. I’m not even kidding around, people – this has got to be one of the most repulsive, mean spirited films I’ve ever seen. There’s simply nothing to it beyond child abuse and people screaming, in pain and seeing their loved ones murdered, and if you can’t give us a suspenseful story and some good, creative thrills to support those things, why should I bother watching this ugly, puerile hack work of a film? It's - and I never use this word lightly - offensive; just flat out offensive to my sense of human decency. It doesn’t help that, as I mentioned, everything else in the movie is done horribly, and also that it never explains any of the supernatural bloody ghosts that appear numerous times throughout. What kinda crap is that?

The effect is that it just comes off like the director half-assed everything else to get to the violence and depravity in the film. Which would make this exploitative, bottom of the barrel trash like no other. I personally can’t wait for the sequel, which will probably just be two hours of people getting crucified with broken nails. Happy happy, joy joy!

The images here do not belong to me, but to their original owners. I own none of them.