Thursday, January 30, 2014

Hold Your Breath (2012)

I decided to change things up this week. For something a little bit different, I will review a bad movie! Yes … truly something original … anyway, this is Hold Your Breath. I think I’ll try feigning disbelief at how bad it is and then making jokes involving pictures from the movie. Yep, that sounds good.

Director: Jared Cohn
Starring: Katrina Bowden, Randy Wayne

We start off this sure to be masterpiece with a truly promising sign …

Yes, The Asylum; always known for good movies, right? Oh well. Maybe I could be wrong. Maybe this is where they turn around and really do something good … but I doubt it. We start off with a crowd of people waiting in an asylum – so that’s why The Asylum put this out! Now it all makes sense! – apparently for the execution of some serial killer. The warden of the place comes in and recounts the horrific acts the killer committed which landed him here in the first place. As some of the victims are among the audience, it seems a bit cruel for the guy to recount the details of the killer’s crimes – but hey, what do I know?

"Yes, I, an obvious victim of this killer, really needed to hear about the crimes he committed, reliving the horrors he inflicted on me that I already have to live with every day, before my ultimate satisfaction of seeing him die." Seriously, is this just the death row version of making pregnant women look at a picture of the fetus inside them before an abortion?

The execution goes about as well as you’d expect: the guy gets loose, murders the warden in cold blood. And then they finally strap him down and electrocute him right as a lightning storm comes around. As we learned from Child’s Play, which truly is a realistic film, a lightning storm at the same time as a death means the dying person will turn supernatural and start killing people again after death.

But maybe that won’t happen here. After all, take a look at the next scene! The sun is shining, people are having fun and crappy alternative rock is playing. Apparently a bunch of unlikable jackasses are going camping. They talk about asinine things like that one time one of the guys shot his teacher in the neck and she had to go on sabbatical – because hurting people paid to help you further your future is awesome.

The main guy takes their cell phones because apparently they all promised that earlier. Even though now, as he’s asking, half of them start bitching and complaining about it. Either this is a brilliant satire of modern technology addiction, or not. Based on the fact that the plot of this movie involves a body-jumping spiritual serial killer, I’m leaning towards the latter.

"What do you MEAN we have to give up our cell phones even though we agreed to that already?!? And what do you MEAN we're going camping even though we got in this car of our own will and clearly had PLANS together?! AAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!"

While driving past a cemetery, one of the girls says they have to hold their breath because otherwise an evil spirit could go into them. I’d expect this from a mental asylum patient, but not from a seemingly preppy white girl who likely never saw Mardi Gras in her life – then again, with all the high-end celebrities touting exotic religions just to look cool, who knows? I just love how fervent she gets about it, shouting and screaming until they all hold their breaths. The one stoner guy coughs or something, and they end up crashing the car next to an old abandoned mental hospital – the same one from the opening scene.

As their car is still working you would think they get out of there, but nope, it’s time to go exploring in the old mental hospital. Two of them decide they just CAN’T go on without having sex, so they literally just go inside the building to find some place quiet to do that – if this seems insane to you, well you are probably a functioning and contributing member of society, unlike these characters apparently. Because, you know, any good horror movie has porno sex scenes set to crappy music:

Ssshhhh, don't tell them fucking in a dirty abandoned mental hospital may lead to diseases. This is Darwinian natural selection at work in full.

I love how the lyrics don’t even make sense with the sex scene … they’re more in line with the title of the movie and the plot, about holding your breath and what not. How incongruous. Hmph, and to think I expected a tasteful and subtle sex scene out of a horror movie with a plot about a body-jumping serial killer!

Speak of the devil, by the way – the stoner guy of the group apparently got possessed by that killer guy from the opening because he didn’t hold his breath all the way. Some cop approaches him, so he does the natural thing: gouges out his eye and then ties him to the steering wheel of his car, and then lights him on fire.

And nobody inside hears the explosion at all - makes sense to me, but then again I have seen too many movies like this and my brain was fried long ago.

Yeah, well, like they always say, marijuana makes you kill people. Such is the travesty of drugs.

Meanwhile inside, this one guy gets dared by the two chicks to sit in an old electric chair and even lets them tie him up in it – all for the promise of a blow job from the ‘hold your breath when you’re driving by a graveyard’ chick, because she’s such a catch. Apparently she also sees some ghost of some girl, which is supposedly making her tie the guy up? I don’t know. It’s never brought up again and the movie continues as if the only killer were the original serial killer guy – so yeah, makes sense!

Then an electrical storm starts up with the guy still tied up and the girls don’t untie him. It’s at moments like these – and they are so plentiful in horror films – that I understand how the wacky death news stories CNN and Yahoo report on happen. I can picture this being a headline the next day: Stupid White Kids Accidentally Electrocute Friend In Abandoned Mental Asylum.

Meanwhile on the other side of the building, there seems to be no electrical storm at all and yet they still hear the guy screaming. Is it supernatural, or just terrible directing and writing? Oh Hold Your Breath, always blurring the line between storytelling and complete incompetence. I have to say, though, them just leaving that mental asylum without any kind of satisfying conclusion is pretty weak. They go to some lake and just hang out. I love how the camera keeps focusing on the chicks’ asses, really just giving them priority over everything.

We're supposed to be focusing on the nice river in this shot.

It’s just a shame that these girls had to be subjected to this sexist insanity. Here they were trying to act in a movie about a body jumping serial killer, and all the director cared about was exploiting their scantily clad bodies.

Oh well, I’m over it. We see one of the guys gets possessed by the killer and then claims he left his bag at the old asylum. He gets one of the chicks to drive him to go get it, because I guess she didn’t believe he could just drive himself … and then he hits her in the head, knocks her out, takes her shirt off and constructs an elaborately complex trap with barbed wire, rope and his car to slice her clean in half:

The whole idea behind this kill is fascinating to me in that I have no idea how it was thought up or why someone would even take the time of day to think of anything this overly elaborate. Boy, for a supernatural body jumping ghost, he sure has a lot of free time on his hands! And he must be glad no other cops came to check on that other guy that never came back!

I guess strangling was out of style.

The rest of the gang waits several hours before even doing anything. I shit you not; several hours – even though apparently it doesn’t take long to get from the asylum to the lake they’re at now. They finally get suspicious and go look. They find the dead girl and then the possessed guy is about to kill them with a rake, but he gets shot by random old man who was once a guard at the asylum.

It happens.

Because the movie realized it didn’t make any sense at all, we get this guy haphazardly shoved in as a plot device to explain everything: every year on the anniversary of his death, the killer comes back as a ghost and possesses people who don’t hold their breaths at graveyards, or something like that. And apparently THIS is the first time the old man has decided to do anything about it! I guess all the other times, he just let innocent people die horribly without explaining anything … either that, or he DID explain it and they all died anyway, because he is a fucking idiot. Either one wouldn’t surprise me.

Somehow he figures out that the blonde chick has been possessed. She gets up and runs away. They all start panicking and preparing for battle. Eventually the blonde chick comes back and kills one of the guys with a blender:

There's a dick metaphor in there somewhere.

Why even bother with this? Wouldn’t it be smarter to just pretend to be normal and not draw attention to yourself for a while, luring them into a false sense of security? Eh, I guess not.

They somehow get out in the forest just in time for the special effects ghost duel of the century between the ghost of the killer and the ghost of the warden who also died that same night. Yeah – he’s back now, too. I guess we’re just making up the rules to this as we go, now.

The fight goes on and the characters just kind of leave, like, ‘we don’t even give enough of a shit to watch the rest of this.’ Either that or they ran out of money to pay the special effects people. The ghosts finally get sucked into the old man’s body, because what we really need is a crazy old guy with a gun and TWO spirits inside him, right?

And that's full circle, we've officially entered the realm of horrible late-80s CGI fighting arcade games.

I also love the epic looking sunrise that happens after that, as it is just so incongruous with everything else in the fuckin movie:

Yeah, THIS thing really benefitted from that shot! Truly just caps off the epic atmosphere this movie had going, right? We then end the film with the guy and two girls in the car. Everything looks like it’s going to be okay until…

Yup, just like every craptacular horror film, it ignores the rules of its own universe simply to give the viewers a real downer of an ending. Oh how I have missed these horror clichés. Or not, because this was a turd of a movie.

It had its goofy moments, it had its terrible moments – it sure was a recitation of everything good and bad about crappy mid-2000s horror. Your appreciation for it will depend on your tolerance level for that style of movies. Either that or the movie will end up killing you if you care one bit about the basic tenets of filmmaking. Pick and choose your own adventure. Ride the wave. And remember, hold your breath when you're driving past a graveyard, or else you might end up killing a girl by taking her shirt off and tying her to a tree with barbed wire hooked up to an electric current charger. It happens.

Images copyright of their original owners; I do not own any of them.