Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Storm of the Century, Part 2

Come one, come all, to the biggest review of the year – my two-parter Storm of the Century one, that is! The first part taught us many enlightening facts. It taught us that singing I’m a Little Teapot is on par with The Exorcist in terms of scaring people, that the proper response to talking about abortion is to bash the other person over the head, and that crossword puzzles are Satan incarnate. What will happen this time? The suspense is just killing me.

Well, let’s not waste any time then!

We start off this side of the DVD with Andre Linoge killing some old lady by making her drown herself in the sink – well, give him points for originality. I don’t even know how that’s necessarily Linoge’s doing. Maybe she just dropped her dentures down there.

After that, we get some more fun times with – guess what:

a) The teapot song

b) Crossword puzzles

If you guessed “A,” you’re right! Your prize is more scenes of “Give me what I want and I will go away” written in blood, this time on the mirror in the bathroom:

Not getting old AT ALL yet, is it? Several times during this whole thing, we get Linoge repeating the line “Hell is repetition,” in regards to people eating other peoples’ eyes in hell, or something like that. Either way it’s a bit odd – is King just admitting that hell is watching this movie? I mean, so much of it is just repeating the same tropes and “scares” over and over again … maybe the movie became self-aware during post-production. That sounds like something King would write about actually!

Anyway, yeah, so Katrina Withers, who murdered her boyfriend in the previous segment, is hanging out watching the moms play with the kids, when they all start singing the Teapot song again. She starts crying, remembering her trauma when Linoge made her murder the boyfriend. All the kids are surprised by this, and then ask what’s wrong with Katrina Withers…and okay, I’ve got to stop the review for a second and address a bit of a pet peeve of mine with this whole thing: Stephen King’s overuse of characters saying each other’s full names when talking to one another in normal conversation.

"You will refer to me by my birth name, which is Michael Arnold Jonathan Caligula Jacob Cheese Sandwich Smith. If you try to shorten that in any way, I will destroy you."

Yes, it’s a bit of a nitpick, but this trope is so common in King’s writing for any medium that I just have to mention it. It’s just so contrived – nobody talks like that! Does every character have to say everyone else’s first AND last name when addressing them? It’s kinda quaint in a small-town Maine sort of way, but the way it’s done here is just over-done. Maybe King just realized he’d put in too many goddamn characters and this was the only way to keep them all straight in his own head … eh, well, any way that works I guess!

So back to the review then. It turns out Linoge is getting his kicks now by taunting Robbie about his mother, who died while Robbie was with a hooker somewhere – what a dirtbag. So the old grandma makes some scary faces and then shouts so loud that she actually creates a gust of wind that blows Robbie across the room. Then Linoge breaks out of prison as this happens:

Oh my God, the color blue is breaking out of the I Know Who Killed Me vault and threatening to usurp the world! AAAAAGGGGHHHHH!!!!!

And what is he supposed to be here? Geriatric Gandalf? Dumbledore on a sick day?

Is that really the scariest thing they could come up with to represent Legion? An old codger in a robe? Why not go full stop and give him Alzheimer's in this state too, really add to the effect?

Well, whatever – he leaves. I guess there’s no incentive to go find him. I don’t think being a small-town cop had a section in the rulebook for what to do when your prisoner magically breaks out of jail and turns into a reject from a Terry Goodkind book. Might have to add that one in next year, guys!

Then they all go outside and have a good time watching a lighthouse fall down:

Will somebody turn the 'blue' filter off?!

While I’m sure King intended this to be really atmospheric and affecting, it kind of gets lost in the film and doesn’t come up that much before or after this scene … in fact I’m pretty sure they don’t even talk about it at the end after the storm has passed and all. The effects are, well, about what you’d expect from a 1990s TV special – I’d make fun of them, but it’d be kinda like making fun of a low-budget art student’s pet project for senior class after visiting the Louvre.


Oh, okay, just one joke: Not the director's toy lighthouse! That was a childhood relic!

And get this – guess how Mike discovers the real identity of Linoge? He plays around with some kids’ toy blocks until he comes up with…

Why don't you discover a new musical symphony via the Xylophone next? Or maybe find the cure for cancer in a pop-up picture book? The possibilities are limitless.

Yup, Legion. That’s who Andre Linoge really was this whole time – one of the most well-known demons from the Bible. While the movie thankfully never delves too deep into the whole Biblical thing, it is definitely there. Whatever floats your boat. All I’m saying is, how come he didn’t discover Linoge’s real identity through a crossword puzzle? Wouldn’t that have been more in keeping with the movie’s erudite themes?

We then see everyone fall asleep and have different dreams about the whole island being found empty and deserted once the storm clears in the future. That’s all fine and well, but there is one really silly moment: when the newscaster breaks character in this kid Davey Hopewell’s dream and looks straight into the camera and says “Davey, you’re too damn short to play basketball.”

Uh, seriously? Let me just put that into perspective for you: this is a dream in which everyone on the whole island is mysteriously disappeared. Why would being too short to play basketball factor into the equation? Moral of the story: teenagers have weird-ass dreams.

There’s also another dream in which everyone on the island is walking over a cliff and into the sea:

This part is actually kind of effective. Why did they even bother with the other scene with the too-short-to-play basketball stuff? Just stick with this, King! There’s some real effective tie-ins to the Roanoke Island mystery, as it seems like the same thing is happening again on the movie’s island. This is what King is really great at – tying his supernatural stories into real life mysteries and events. Occasionally it comes off as hokey, but a lot of the time it adds an extra dimension that really puts the viewer/reader in the story. It’s very atmospheric.

After that, we get one of the woman who was thought lost in the storm suddenly recovered. She tells them a story about how Linoge found her and then made her come back and tell everyone that if they give Linoge what he wants, he’ll go away. Shocking how new this info is, right? Then she actually does give us something new by telling everyone that Linoge wants to meet them that night. What a shock! Information that actually moves the plot forward!

But then everything is thrown back into confusion and insanity as all the kids mysteriously faint and won’t wake up. The parents are all afraid that the kids found their secret Valium stashes hidden beneath the bathroom sink, but it’s okay. Linoge shows them through the window that he has them all flying in the air with him, holding hands like a game you’d play at recess.

Just imagine it was Michael Jackson instead of Linoge there – now THAT would be scary!

Oh okay, that was kind of a low blow – but the film does have an actual child molester in it. Apparently it’s the town priest, if you can believe that … yes, King actually put in that tired cliché. Linoge reveals that secret to Mike after Mike talks to the priest about the religious implications of what’s going on. Literally – Linoge flat out tells them that the priest sexually assaults his two young nieces on a regular basis.

Uh, pardon me for asking, guys; sorry if this is insensitive, but WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING STILL CHASING THIS LINOGE GUY?! Take the child molesting fuck ass out back and make sure he never does it again! Lock him up in the jail cell! You can deal with the literal demon from Hell later; just make sure this sick fuck gets what’s coming to him!

But of course they don’t and it never comes up again. Instead we get a scene where Linoge threatens to make a woman burn her own face off if they don’t listen to what he has to say. I’ll sum it up – he demands that they all meet him in the City Hall that night. So they set about doing exactly that. They gather in city hall and Linoge shows up. Before he actually tells them what he wants though, he spends some more time going around to random town people and humiliating them. How awesome. Maybe he’ll post a series of YouTube videos doing this next.

"Subscribe to my channel. You can also see my 87 impersonations in 100 seconds video too!"

But no, he actually FINALLY tells us what it is he wants. Brace yourselves. Sit close to the screen. Do not under ANY CIRCUMSTANCES miss what he says next … after all, you wouldn't want all of this time you spent watching the movie wasted now, would you? So what’s it gonna be? Does he want a lifetime subscription to their town newsletter without the annoying emails about each month’s next meeting? Does he want to know how many licks it takes to get to the tootsie roll center of a tootsie roll pop? What the hell is it?

Well, listen to this: his request is one of their children. He wants to take away one of their children to become his heir after he dies in thousands of years. And if they don’t give him one, he will kill everyone on the island, children included. Jesus. Why not just hit up an adoption agency? Wouldn't that make more sense? I guess he just likes being super fuckin' dramatic and wasting a bunch of time. Hell, why not take a kid who doesn't have parents off the streets and raise him? Just goes to show you how bad orphans have it, doesn't it? Not even a demonic dying entity from Hell wants them.

He then gives the whole island thirty minutes to decide what to do. They all immediately set about establishing that they don’t have any problem giving Linoge a child if he’ll spare the rest of them. Except, that is, for Mike, who stands up and calls them all insane. His position is simple – if they give Linoge a child, how will they live with themselves from then on? Nobody really has an answer to this, except that they don’t want to die. And frankly, it IS a tough situation, and there ARE no really great answers to anything going on here. Mike gives his point and the others have their own, all rather unfounded and flawed except  for the simple fact that they don’t know what to do – because it is such a hard choice. Eventually they do have to settle on giving him a child though, simply for self-preservation.

Linoge comes and makes them all take a little rock – seven of them white and one black, and the parent with the black one is the child who Linoge will take. And if the laws of dramatic irony have ever had any presence, guess whose kid gets chosen?

That’s right. Mike, the only person in the room who didn’t like the idea, is the one who gets the short end of the stick here. Linoge turns back into geriatric Gandalf and carries young Ralphie Anderson off into the background of the ET poster.

Then we get an “epilogue” where Mike has decided to move off the island. He divorces his wife and takes his car and just drives. He eventually ends up, for some reason, becoming an FBI agent or something – isn’t that kinda random? And then he sees his grown-up son with vampire teeth – which are only shown in close-up because the movie didn’t have the kid’s parents’ permission for him to wear them himself:

I'm just amazed Andre Linoge would take the kid anywhere in the proximity of Mike. You'd think he would know better than that.

All in all I just have one question at the end of this: what the hell did they ever do about that pedophilic priest? Did they arrest him? Did they save the little girls? Come on! You can’t just tell me they let him live! Does a storm of the century with a horrific demonic entity taking children really excuse PEDOPHILIA?!

Eh, I guess it does. Innocence is dead.

So that’s Storm of the Century. All bullshit aside, I like it. It’s a good, imaginative movie with some real heart and soul to it. Unlike flops like IT or Pet Sematary, this actually takes itself seriously for the most part and delivers a good story that rises up through the rather average acting and production values. The characters, while too numerous, are occasionally very good, and the atmosphere and tension are fairly palpable.

While there’s nothing exactly arresting going on here, and the whole is perhaps too long, I kinda like the huge running time. It makes this whole thing more spacious and detailed, really giving the viewer a feel for the atmosphere it’s trying to convey, and the weight of it all is so massive that it’s really something you have to see to believe. Even for all its flaws and silly moments, Storm of the Century is impressive.

And that’s 2013 for Cinema Freaks. It’s been a fun year with some great reviews, some terrible movies and even some really good, fun movies in the mix. Check back any time for more.

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