Sunday, January 25, 2015

V/H/S Viral (2014)

Lots of things go viral now. The Internet has become a sort of do-it-yourself paradise for people who aren't talented enough to get famous any other way. Hell, look at my own blog for a perfect example.

...I think I need to go re-evaluate my life choices. In the meantime, here's a review of V/H/S Viral I had previously written and will now somehow play back to you even though this is a text-based blog post and that makes no sense.

Director: Various
Starring: Justin Welborn, Emmy Argo

Co-written with Tony and Michelle.


We start this off with one of the most realistic things ever according to modern horror filmmakers – people playing around with cameras and filming their girlfriends' cleavage:

What amazing cinematography and lighting.

I'm sorry, I gotta break character so early in the review but really...who acts like this? Who in real life ever plays with a fucking camera like this? Nobody does! Absolutely nobody in the world ever uses a video camera this much and just follows their girlfriend or friends around filming all day! You'd probably be slapped with harassment fines if you filmed your significant other this much! They'd leave you in a second! But the way these movies tell it, no, filming your loved ones is the highest mark of respect! Truly it signifies decency and respect, and doesn't at all mean they're about to cut you up into little pieces and store your body parts in a freezer while masturbating to the video later.

Sigh. I dunno. At least this time we get a sort of story here with Camera Boy seeing a car chase going on outside. I guess the idea is that it's actually a rogue ice cream truck going mad, which to me sounds like the kind of thing Stephen King could only dream of writing.

Anyway, a cop stands in the road telling Camera Boy to stop filming, because I guess the cop just feels insecure about his looks today. The ice cream truck hits him and immediately kills him, severing an arm in the process – I'm so glad we're letting our kids buy ice cream from these trucks which can kill a man in a second!

Dante the Great

Then we get the first of the anthology stories – this one is a documentary about a magician called Dante the Great. Apparently Dante used to be trailer trash up until he randomly found a magic cloak that used to belong to Houdini. Then he started being able to do cool things like pull rabbits from his cloak.

"Holy crap, I forgot I had left this in my back pocket for so long! Now I get why my clothes smelled like rabbit shit for months!"

After that it was apparently a fast ticket to success, as he gets huge sold-out exclusive shows in big cities and seems to be wowing the entire world. I love some of the people this one couple who say Dante the Great teleported them across the country during his act, from New York to San Francisco. Gee, honey, that magic show sure was worth the hundreds of dollars for a plane ticket back to our home and missing work the next day!

"Dude, he teleported us to the Antarctic Circle! I'm so in awe of the power of stage magicians!"

Another guy says Dante the Great picked his pocket on stage. Well that's great. You really spellbound me on the art of magic now! He stole money from you after you already paid for a ticket. The guy doesn't elaborate if Dante ever gave him his money back, but given the rest of the story, I'm inclined to think he didn't. Boy, Dante's kind of an ass, huh?

As the documentary goes on, it chronicles how Dante went slowly insane because of the cape. This magician's assistant tells most of the story, about how he made friends with her (though really he's just trying to get in her pants). He does creepy things like tie up her hands with rope without warning her first:

"Next I'll use X-Ray vision to see through your already skimpy clothing...isn't that amazing?"

And also beating the shit out of her abusive boyfriend, Chronicle-style!

Assault and eventual murder? Whimsical!

Though not all of his super macho-aggro fighting exploits are so noble – for example, I really don't think killing random women who you conned into sleeping with you is kosher.

I just love the amount of logic this guy has...hey, I'll try and get this hot magician's assistant to be my girlfriend! Oh, but I'd probably have a fucking girlfriend if I didn't keep murdering every woman who came home with me! Eh, what can you say but, magical cloaks turn you into a giant dildo of a human being.

Then we see more of his logic as the cops find out he's been killing people and arrest him. He escapes and gets into a huge fight with them, apparently figuring that will persuade them. Hey, maybe if I kill the cops, they'll leave me alone and I can go back to selling out theaters to perform magic! Yeah! And maybe if you try hard enough, you can also pull a rabbit out of your ass next time.

"This is great publicity for my shows!"

Assistant chick, meanwhile, is sitting in some cop's office and the cop is telling her magic doesn't exist. Then to prove her wrong, she gets magically sucked through a portal in her chair to where Dante is:

"Hmm, my sense of irony and comedic timing tell me this moment means something..."

In the fight she has with Dante, she of course never even has any dust on her face, and doesn't have a single hair out of place or makeup smudge. What can I say about this? Clearly it's important for women to look good while fighting for their lives.

Also, why isn't he just killing her? He's clearly an omnipotent super-god of a man; why not just kill her and get it over with? Or is it really still a possibility in his mind that he could get together with her if he just beats her into submission? Really proving how different you are from the abusive jackass that you saved her from before, guy! But whatever. Clearly he's just crazy now, so that excuses everything.

The guy can teleport anything he wants and rip open bunny rabbits without touching them, but his best recourse here is just strangling her with one hand. Brilliant combat strategy.

He gets sucked into his own cloak like it's a giant vacuum cleaner, and she goes home and uses a webcam so she can show off her own ass:

"Oh, I had an extra cloak after all!"

Then she gets sucked into the cloak too, and that's the end of that!

Bonus – there's a documentary scene where it shows his mom after his disappearance, still living in the same trailer park as before. So even when Dante the Great got all that money and fame, he didn't help his own mother move out of a trailer park. That is just the epitome of class!

Parallel Monsters

The next story is about this guy who builds a dimensional portal in his bedroom. You know, like you do. He meets up with himself from another dimension, which is super cool!

“Hey, Me from Another Dimension, I totally trust you even though you're acting suspicious as fuck and I don't know what kinds of dark secrets or fucked up shit are in this other world! Let's trade lives and explore each other's dimensions!”


In the parallel universe, main dude meets up with a double of his wife, who apparently finds it fun to invite two wannabe porn stars over to sit on the couch and watch reruns of The Wicker Man.

"What? They don't do this in your dimension?"

He sits on the couch with his parallel-dimension wife, who complains that he ignores her too much. To alleviate her worries, he looks out the window and ignores her some more. What a class act, man.

Then some noises sound outside and he goes outside to find that the two porn stars from before actually have worm monsters in place of dicks, which is totally what I wanted to see. This movie is really hitting all the right notes! I don't think their porn careers would be very fruitful though – they have labor unions for shit like this now.

Hey, his facial expression is the same one all the viewers of the entire movie had after it was over!

Back in the real world, the alternate reality version of the main guy pulls out his own monster-worm-dick in front of the real-world wife. I thought he raped her the first time I saw this, but really we see her again later, and she doesn't look like she got violated by a worm monster...I mean, so far as my eyes can tell on the other side of this computer screen. So maybe he just wanted to show it off. Truly, the lesson learned here is just to use protection when you enter a parallel dimension. Always play on the safe side.

It's also never explained WTF that is, or why they have them - it's just, hey, this is weird alien shit!

I also wonder what her reaction was...

“I've been married to you for 6 years! How did I not notice this?!?

Yeah that sounds about right. Anyway, both of the wives, in both universes, kill their husbands, which ends this time travel story on a bit of a sour note. I mean, it really isn't much of a selling point for interdimensional travel, is it? I mean, double homicide on both ends probably isn't going to have NASA barging into the basement of the next weirdo who makes a portal.

Wrap-Around Land

In the wrap-around segment, more teenagers try to film the car chase with the demonic ice cream truck, which is a sentence that really makes me question what I do here. Don't I have anything else I could review? No, probably not. Am I having a conversation with myself in the middle of a review? Yes. Yes I am...

We get some dumb enlightening, powerful plays on filmmaking like a shot from the prospective of a kid being dragged along on the back of a truck. KEEP FILMING, BRAVE SOUL!

Bloody feet? No problem! KEEP FILMING!!!

Or this masterful one, which shows from the perspective of a kid falling off a bridge to his death:

Truly this is the commentary on suicide we've been waiting for. Nobody will want to kill themselves now that they've seen what it looks like from this perspective!

Ugh. Okay, I'm done talking about this part.


The last actual full-length story is about kids skateboarding and making literally everyone they come across mad. I'm not shitting you here. They skateboard on a roof and make the owner of the roof shout at them. They're on the sidewalk and one kid runs into a guy's jeep and damages it, and that guy gets mad at them. What kind of ingenious recourse do they have against all these angry squares who just don't get it? Well, they mostly just flip them off and keep going.

Nothing to do with what I described just now, but funny all the same just for causing these three morons pain.

Also, filming everything is TOTALLY radical, dude. I dunno, just show me the scene where they fight Scott Pilgrim and get exploded into a handful of coins.

They then decide the United States just can't handle their douchiness, so they go to a remote, desolate part of Tijuana, where I'm sure they will be in good company with the drug dealers and slum lords in the area!

"In America they just have photos of Kim Kardashian and Sarah Palin at their skate park ritual religious temples!"

Frankly, though, the dangers of drug cartels are nowhere near as perilous compared to the dangers of Satanic voodoo ritual cults. I can see why so many of them are eager to cross the border to the States now.

Fortunately for them, though, skateboarding means you get superpowers – again, Scott Pilgrim. Read up on it. So the skater-douches go to town on the cult members, even though they're violently outnumbered and smaller, and somehow turn into Sylvester Stallone mini-me's.

Wrap Around...Again

There's a short story in between the main ones about some girl taking off her clothes in a cab for a camera and then pulling a gun on the sleazebag making her do it, saying something about revenge porn. Unfortunately she doesn't kill him before a truck slams into the cab and presumably just kills all three of them. It's kinda just an excuse for boobs, which every V/H/S movie has some sort of insane quota of that I guess this one hadn't met yet.

Will this drive up my site traffic more? I think so. That's why I put it here.

After that we get the conclusion of the main story, where Camera Boy finds the ice cream truck in some abandoned field and finds inside it...well, look:

Hey, you found the neighborhood child predator's hideout!

What were they originally doing in that truck before the apocalypse? I mean, I can't imagine the demonic truck putting all those TVs in there by itself. So that means that, before all this crazy shit started happening, somebody else put all that shit in there...people really need to ask more questions of the ice cream man.

Then what happens next is...honestly kind of hard to describe. Camera Boy sees his girlfriend on the screen bashing her own head into a wall unless he takes his own picture and “goes viral,” I guess – maybe the whole thing is some weird-ass allegory for what technology and “viral” video culture do to us. I dunno, it really isn't elaborated on much.

A new way to take a selfie.

So that's V/H/S Viral. I honestly don't know what they were thinking with most of this, but it was a bit entertaining at least – certainly moreso than the lame second installment, which felt recycled and like an afterthought to the first one. This one, while dumb and mostly nonsensical, did at least keep you guessing and wondering what was going to happen next. I wouldn't go so far as to call it good, but it entertained me more than I thought it would.

Now, my minions, go and spread this review and make it...VIRAL!

Images copyright of their original owners; I own none of them.

Friday, January 23, 2015

What Makes a Likable Character?

In a lot of my reviews – and a lot of reviews in general – there's a certain emphasis placed on whether or not a character is likable. As relating to a character is often extremely important in how much a certain movie or TV show resonates with you, the concept isn't exactly one that can be brushed over lightly. But what makes a character likable? What draws us back time and time again to characters that, in all actuality, are just figments of someone else's imagination?

Well, I think it's simply the level to which said characters acts like a real human being. This is a product of both the writing and the actor's performance – a sort of double-team that comes together and creates a great character. A great writer can shade and detail a character all day and night and overcome a weak acting performance. And vice versa – a mediocre writer may not craft the best character, but a great actor can really bring out the best. And in both scenarios it may not work out because of one or the others' shortcomings.

The real treat is when you get a great actor AND a great written character. That's the golden prize at the bottom of the proverbial cereal box.

Hmm, nope, there was no prize in this one...

I think a lot of people define a realistic, likable character with one that fits their own morals and values – one that is an upstanding person morally, socially, etc. who doesn't do anything wrong and doesn't make mistakes. Call it a Superman complex – they want a character with as few flaws as possible. After all, what is there NOT to like about an upstanding, nice person?

That's fine. I don't have a problem with that definition – after all, everyone's got different standards and qualities that appeal to them. However, it does sort of bother me when I see certain characters lambasted for their flaws as if those doing the lambasting have never made mistakes. I'm of course talking about Piper Chapman from Orange is the New Black and Skyler White from Breaking Bad.

I've just seen endless bitching and moaning about how unlikable and awful these characters are. I dunno, that's your prerogative – I find them both to be wonderful to watch and great additions to their shows.

Piper is a rich, preppy white girl. That's basically the core of her character. She's melodramatic, kind of selfish and often given to pretentious speeches and moralizing. That's her character. Haven't you known people like that in real life? I have. She may not be someone you want to date or hang out with, but I just don't think that's a prerequisite to a likable character. It's certainly not a prerequisite to a well-written one, I can tell you that much. I guess some people really just hate watching characters they find annoying, but I think it'd be boring if every character was someone I found completely in-line with my own views and personality.

While she has flaws and shortcomings, the difference between this and some lesser shows and movies is simple – the show actually accentuates those shortcomings and uses them for character development. There's a lot of playing around in Orange is the New Black with this – several characters will talk to each other about how awful she is and then the viewer sort of thinks “hey, they have a point; she WAS wrong there.” But the brilliance of the show is when they swing you back around to her side later. Nobody is fully wrong and nobody is fully right in every situation. I've spoken about this in another blog post in more detail, but I think the show does a great job at showing their characters' flaws in equal proportions.

Plus, the brilliant performance by Taylor Schilling just works on so many levels. She's a really great actress and communicates a kind of frailty combined with naivete that manages to bounce off the hardness of prison life quite well. Great, great stuff.

Breaking Bad is even more of a controversial one, as Skyler White received so much hate throughout almost all of this show. Actress Anna Gunn – who is brilliant and was a great asset to the show – actually received threats of physical violence over it, which is so insane that I don't even have words to describe how insane it is.

Needless to say, if you wanted to see Skyler act differently than she did on Breaking Bad, you missed the point of the show.

I'll fill in the basics for those who never saw it – basically she's protagonist Walt's wife, who remains oblivious at first about his illicit drug making activities. She figures it out fairly quickly, though, and then proceeds to try and get him out of her life for good, then later help him for her own financial gain and family necessity, and so on – the relationship is quite complex and multi-faceted. Which is why it's a shame when people boil it down to 'she's a nag who just doesn't understand what Walt is doing.'

It's bullshit, really. This is a show full of drug dealers, criminals and all other sorts of miscreants and crooks, and somehow the one most hated character is the main character's wife who reacts as any sane person would upon finding out their spouse was making drugs. Yes, he said he was doing it for his family – no, that wasn't the whole truth and no, that doesn't excuse what he was doing. You might say 'oh, well if MY husband or wife was doing that, I'D understand'...well, it's easy to say such things from an armchair when it isn't happening to you.

I guess I just don't get what people want from this character. Do they want her to act like a completely submissive wallflower of a wife, never questioning Walt's motives and never challenging him? Would that have added more drama instead of taking away from the show? I've thought about this more than I should have, and really I just can't come up with any alternatives. You don't like the character; okay. How should she have acted instead? What would you have written into the show differently? I'd actually really like to hear different opinions here that do more than just bash the character.

Everything she does is realistic. The character is portrayed as a scared housewife trying to protect her family. I guess people just find her mannerisms annoying or the way she talks, or something like that – but is that really a reason to hate a character so thoroughly? I don't know. Anna Gunn is a stellar actress and portrays the character as well as any of the others are portrayed. I wouldn't even dream of trading her role for anything else in the show.

Both of these characters are flawed, sure – nobody's saying they're perfect, and it wouldn't be realistic if they were. However, as I said – the difference is that they're written so that the story works with their flaws, rather than ignoring them. Certainly this is different from movies like Hollow Man, in which the main character just unrepentantly acts like a dick to people and, surprise, is the main villain and dies at the end. Where's the drama? It's exactly what you'd expect to happen to that character, and what you want to see happen. There's zero complexity.

It just comes down to the level of writing you put in, at the end of the day. If your script has a character acting in shitty, awful ways and the movie doesn't try and address that at all – whether condoning or satirizing or punishing them for it – then your script comes off as hackneyed and will turn people off.

You can have characters selling drugs, killing people or lying to their loved ones, and if you write it correctly, then the audience will still want to see what happens to them and may even root for them in some cases - see Walter White from the aforementioned Breaking Bad for the most popular recent example.

But if you just make them do horrible things for no reason, for no consequence or dramatic purpose? Well, nobody really wants to see that.

Hell, even a generic Superman-style boy-scout character can be good. Just look at Rick Grimes from the Walking Dead!

He's a good old country-boy sheriff from a small town thrust in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. As is expected in this kind of story, he becomes the leader. And he's another example of an unfairly maligned character. People went on and on back in the early seasons of the show about how bland and boring the guy was, but I don't see it. I think people as good-natured and somewhat naive as him can be realistic, and in a zombie apocalypse, his sort of old-world views contrasted brilliantly with the hard reality around him.

His constantly trying to help individual people and doing what he considered right, even when it seemed foolhardy to everyone around him, was a big part of the appeal of the early seasons. Watching him grow into the brutal, world-weary leader he is in the new season is the definition of character development. It's really well done.

So really, there are lots of ways to make likable characters. You'll make your own definition and maybe disagree with me on some of these points. And that's good – it's good to have that kind of discourse. Go free my children and discuss! Unless you don't agree with me, in which case I will simply ignore you.

Images copyright of their original owners; I own none of them.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Twixt (2011)

A long long time ago, there existed a filmmaker named Francis Ford Coppola. He made a string of genre-defining films that were critically appraised worldwide – the first two Godfather movies, Apocalypse Now and The Conversation – and he was regularly and rightfully renowned in film fanatic circles as one of the medium's best artists.

That was in the 70s, though. Now he makes movies like Twixt.

Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Starring: Val Kilmer, Elle Fanning, Bruce Dern

Co-written with The Observer and Michelle.

Apparently the idea for this movie came to Coppola in a dream, which makes sense, as I also try to turn all of my dreams into movies. The only problem is, I can't get a studio to green-light a movie about conquering the king of the mole people who lives in the lost kingdom Atlantis with a sword made entirely out of cheese wedges as a metaphor for my own coming of age.

So to get out my frustration, I'm just going to talk about Twixt. Take a deep breath, guys; it's gonna be a weird-ass trip.

We start this off with a narration that I'm sure lead actor Val Kilmer recorded when he was working off a bad hangover from the previous night. He narrates about how there's this town with a clocktower with seven clockheads, none of which tell the right time – which really makes sense, when you don't try to think about it at all and instead move onto something else entirely.

He also says it was “a town of people who wanted to be left alone,” which might sound like a cool premise to set up a story, but really it's never elaborated on – so it mostly just comes off as kinda douchey on the part of the collective townfolk. As far as PR for this town goes, Kilmer isn't doing a good job. He just makes it sound like some shithole with nothing to do, so, I guess give him props for truth in advertising.

Then again, as we'll find out later, the town is also somewhat famous for having vampires hanging out there, which I guess would bring a higher concentration of Hot Topic shoppers there or something, so at least they'd have that.

The commercial for Hot Topic's new clothing line isn't looking too good...I recommend a re-shoot, preferably with a hot chick in that same position.

As for the vampires themselves, well, they're really more of an afterthought; never given real characters or even any purpose in the story. It's really quite astounding that Coppola managed to shoehorn in fucking vampires into this and made them the most forgettable thing in the movie. Oh, except that the lead vampire's name is Flamingo, and that they just kinda hang out on the other side of this lake in town. But I think the fact that his name is Flamingo is the more important part there.

I guess we're supposed to believe Kilmer's character, Hall Baltimore, is a pulp horror fiction writer who is going to this town to sell books. However, when he asks where the bookstore is, he's told there isn't one at all, and so he ends up selling books out of this random hardware store instead. So why did he come to this town again? Did he just pack his shit into his car and go 'alright, time to go drive in a random direction until I find a town shitty enough to just let me set up camp without warning'? I mean, either that or his agent massively fucked up somewhere along the line.

A vision into Val Kilmer's future.

His only real guest is Sheriff Bobby Lagrange, played by Bruce Dern, later of the much better movie Nebraska. I love one of Lagrange's first lines: “How does it feel to be a bargain basement Stephen King?” Well, I'd imagine not very good. Lagrange then proceeds to just sort of take one of Hall's books without paying and have him sign it, saying he's one of his biggest fans – gee, with fans who insult you and take your books without paying, who needs enemies?

"Also, your penmanship sucks."

Then, I guess, Lagrange wants to show Hall this dead body in the morgue as an inspiration for a new book, which Lagrange wants to help write, or something. The body for some reason is just held in the sheriff's office, and still has the stake that was used to murder her sticking out of the top of the body, because why remove that, anyway? Just leave it there as a warning to everyone else. A warning to what, you may ask? not play with large wooden stakes, I guess...

"So why did you leave that stake in the body? Why not take it out?"
"Don't you bring your big-city smart guy bullshiiiiiit in here! We do things old school in this town! To make sure our dead bodies don't turn into vampires, we leave the stakes in for 30 days after!"
"I've never heard that about---"

Hall goes out and finds this old hotel where apparently Edgar Allen Poe once stayed – pfft, yeah right, but whatever you need to tell yourself to sleep at night! He then partakes in one of the movie's favorite pastimes – getting into a Skype argument with his wife over money.

Skype chats are instant drama!

You know, I guess these scenes could be way worse, but they're pretty fuckin' bad coming from the guy who once gave us the masterfully crafted destruction of Michael Corleone's familial relationships, is Val Kilmer whining to his wife over Skype really the best we could expect? Here's one of the lines he delivers, so make up your own minds: “People ask why I'm so good at writing about witches, and I tell them it's because I married one!”

Riveting. Just...riveting.

Then he goes for a walk in the woods and the movie loses its mind! Apparently, while walking in the woods, he runs into this young girl played by Elle Fanning, who was in the much better Super 8 the same year as this came out. The girl has a conversation with Hall about, I don't know, her braces or something.

"I think my braces make me look ugly."
"No, the Anne Rice-wannabe makeup is what does that!"

Then she says she really enjoys Hall's books, so I guess it's good that he managed to find a thirteen-year-old girl who enjoyed his work! I wonder what pops up on Amazon's “also recommended” feature when you buy his shit?

Yeah, sounds about right. She also says she couldn't make it to Hall's book signing because she didn't know what time it was, on account of the seven clock faces all telling different times in the town. Which, again, isn't a ridiculous idea at all for a town to adopt that! Pfft, I mean, telling time is for losers.

Anyway, he then loses track of her and finds this mysterious house in the woods where some weird stuff is going on with a creepy priest guy hoarding 10 or so children into the basement, or some shit like that. Apparently the Elle Fanning girl is there too. I don't know – it's a very dreamlike, weird sequence and doesn't really have much context right now. The girl gets into an argument with the priest-looking dude, saying she “knows what he did,” but they separate and nothing comes of it yet.

Oh, and sometime during this weird sequence, he also runs into Edgar Allen Poe, because why not?

Well, never seen Edgar Allen Poe erotica before, so there is that novelty...

If none of this makes any sense to you, well, it's because most of that sequence was in the past, and Hall can now visit the past, or dream world, or whatever it is, when he falls asleep. This isn't really established very well at all, and the story as a whole is very muddled and hard to follow overall.

Hall investigates a bit, and even goes to a library – which I'm just now realizing would have been a much better place to hold that fucking book signing than a goddamned hardware store. That's a minor detail, but what else am I supposed to focus on? I get that Hall is reading up on the town history of some murders or something, but I'm not really convinced Val Kilmer can read – he did say yes to this script, after all.

There's another sequence where Hall goes to see the police chief and has to call the operator to get the phone number so he can call inside and get them to let him in. Then he knocks on the door and the deputy guy is in there anyway – so the entire thing was pointless. Amazing. The deputy goes on this whole spiel about it being Sunday so the sheriff's office is closed – then why he is there? The movie has no idea either.

"This town is so shitty, we just converted my house into a sheriff's office! MY LIFE IS ENDLESS MISERY!"

For that matter, the sheriff's office is just closed on Sunday in this town? I get that it's a small town, but come on, does crime take a break on Sundays? Are you just operating on good faith?

I guess Hall gets the idea to write a story about the town because of his dream sequence, which he gets the title “The Vampire Executions” from LaGrange. Speaking of that crazy old coot, LaGrange is apparently so into this vampire crap that he made a little wooden model of the execution chair, complete with a little girl doll in it getting murdered - with painted blood on it, mind you - when he presses a switch.

That's it, game over man!

I just...really have no fucking idea what mushrooms Coppola ate when he was making this, but I have a feeling they're the same ones needed to actually understand what the hell this movie was going for.

There's also a billion more scenes with the split-screen thing going on for Skype calls. He tells his wife about the book idea, and then he talks to this old coot from his publishing company, who is very insistent that he not use the “fog on the lake” line in his opening scene, as well as just kinda pushy in general. He really just seems way too eager and energetic. It's like, c'mon buddy, you're in Twixt, you can just relax now.

Then the very next scene, we get Hall sitting in front of a computer screen like a goddamn web-blogger trying to write the opening of the novel. Because this movie is a horrible abomination against good taste, he apparently can't think of anything that ISN'T the “fog on the lake” line to open the story – I guess he's a shitty writer; whodathunkit.

Boy, Dean Koontz's later work under a pseudonym really isn't that good, huh?

After a way-too-long scene of him trying to write, the movie just gives up and he starts rambling about gay basketball players from the 60s and all sorts of other completely random nonsense that sounds like I'm making it up – but no, rest assured, it's really in the movie. Why? I have no idea. And frankly, I don't really want to know. Coppola...I think your movie is broken beyond repair. This whole thing is the cinematic equivalent to a Blue Screen of Death – it's just done.

This about sums up the entire movie.

Or, wait, I got a better one – do you guys remember that Homestar Runner cartoon about the virus on Strong Bad's computer? That's what this movie is. Just complete random bullshit, getting more and more insane and incomprehensible with each scene and eventually kind of imploding on itself.

Then we get a scene where Hall breaks into the sheriff's office in the middle of the night to examine that body with the stake in it. I'm just fucking astounded that the sheriff's office is locked on a Sunday morning but then at night it's apparently wide open for anyone to break in. But hey, why make sense now?

"Why couldn't I have just come in the next day and asked about this in public, seeing as they're obviously cooperative with me so far? Because...well, I'm just a fucking idiot."

Because the movie isn't done ritualistically murdering our brain cells, we get a scene where Hall and the sheriff's guys actually use a Ouija board to try and contact the dead girl to see if they can figure out who killed her. Why bother with actual investigations? It's not like you're police officers or something! Just use a Ouija board; it's how all the best detectives do it. I mean I still haven't seen True Detective, but I'm pretty sure they do this kind of shit all the time on that show.

When your detective team is so sad you have to invite a random little kid who gets zero lines in the film into your group. Yes, really - that kid is never introduced as a real character and has no lines. But that doesn't surprise me at this point.

If these scenes I'm describing sound splattershot-random to you, it's because they pretty much are. None of these scenes really have any point to them and most of them end quite abruptly without accomplishing much in terms of the story. While I can see what Coppola was going for with the story, the way it's told really is pretty slipshod-poor. There's just no coherence to any of this and it's making it even kind of hard to write this review. They've finally done it! They've created the Anti-Cinema Freaks movie! A movie so incomprehensible I can't even describe it right!

What else is there to talk about? The scene where he confronts those vampires across the lake and nothing comes of it?

When the kid with lipstick, mascara and a black cape seems like the more sensible one in your movie.


Maybe the scene where it's finally revealed, after a lengthy shouting match in Hall's hotel room, that Sheriff Bobby LaGrange was the "wooden stake" killer all along, because why wouldn't he be? There were so many clues, if you skipped to the end of the movie and watched the ending first. I mean otherwise it wouldn't make any sense whatsoever as there were zero clues. But whatever!

We then get another acid trip flashback where we see that  the creepy minister guy from the past killed all of the kids in his care because he was afraid of them getting turned into vampires. That is logical, and makes so much sense, that I can't even come up with words to describe it. It's just the zenith of filmmaking and storytelling.

Then we see the Elle Fanning girl from before, who apparently tried to run away, and so he did the logical thing and kidnapped her, chaining her to the wall in a creepy out of the way building and torturing her.

I guess she got turned into a vampire somehow, but even that's not very clear.

So what was this guy's plan again? Vampires exist, so kill every human being you can rather than let the vampires get them? Well when you put it like THAT it sounds...completely batshit. Thanks for more murdered brain cells, movie!

Whatever – just get to the scene where Hall looks longingly over the random cliff we haven't seen before and sees his dead daughter's face reflected in the water for no reason:

Apparently Elle Fanning was Edgar Allen Poe's lost Lenore, or some shit like that. And yes, he is rolling in his grave right now!

Oh yeah, I did forget to mention that subplot? About the dead daughter? I'm just heartbroken over this now. How can I be trusted to review things in a professional manner at all? Eh, on second thought, it doesn't really matter.

Then Hall goes back to the sheriff's office where he finds the vampire-ghost of Elle Fanning waiting under the sheet to kill him, in a very bloody and violent manner...

...only for him to then wake up in a chair in a nice office, handing the book he just wrote to the publisher. Yes, I'm dead serious. This whole thing was basically just an allegory for a hack writer stealing someone else's ideas and using them as his own to make money. Truly worth all the fever-dream sequences and non-sequitur dialogue, right?

Even better is the ending text scroll we're left with:

Yes, the fact that Hall's new book did “pretty good business” really did deserve priority over the next bullet under it, which says that LaGrange was a murderer. Book sales always trump the lives of dead people. Great list there, movie!

Okay, I'm about ready to check into the psychiatric ward after this movie. I seriously just don't even know, man. I mean, it's awful, it really is – the acting's either wooden or extremely overdramatic, the story is a hackneyed mess which the numerous over-long dream sequences don't help, most scenes go nowhere, and the twist at the end is so random that I feel like it was just made up on the spot when Coppola wrote that scene.

But strangely, it isn't the worst thing I've ever seen – I mean, it does have a certain personal feel to it that likely comes from the fact that Coppola wrote, directed and produced the thing. And to be fair, despite the film's complete insanity, there really is nothing else like it out there – it is one of a kind, for better or for worse.

Plus, it's really funny to watch and riff on with friends. Never underestimate the power of that virtue.

My only lingering question about all this is, since Val Kilmer was once Batman, and one actor who used to be Batman got a super-cool meta-comedy film about his career, when do we get Kilmer's version of the same? My guess after seeing this movie is, not any time soon.

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