Monday, August 10, 2015

Killer Mermaid (2014)

I recently saw the 1979 Tarkovsky film Stalker, which was about a man who led people into a strange other dimension called The Zone to search for their innermost desires. And it rang true with me, because I also am about to embark on a similar journey.

For you see, I am also searching for something – a purpose in my life. I've heard all the legends and stories; all the hushed whispers of those who have tried and failed at the task I am going to undertake today. This is the path I need to take, for at the end of it, there supposedly lies a grand, ultimate truth that will set my soul at ease and answer all my questions. It is in a cruel twist of fate that I realize what road I must travel down – this movie contains the answers I seek.

Director: Milan Todorovic
Starring: Kristina Klebe, Natalie Burn

Yes, Killer Mermaid. It's a Serbian horror film that is actually, apparently, the first 'creature flick' made in the country, which is pretty cool. What isn't cool is the fact that everything about it is stale and tired already. It is a strange, boring journey with many perilous obstacles that could be the death of me. This is the voyage of legends, which no man has survived awake or with all his brain cells. If I fall asleep, I lose the game and have to start over. Wish me luck!

It starts off rather innocuously, as it is in all aspects a regular film – it has characters speaking English and not breaking off into crying screaming gibberish, and they are talking to each other and not to hallucinations only they can see. Also, the dialogue seems to all go in one direction and seems like it's in the same language. So it's good – we know we're in our own reality, which is the standard I have come to start out all these reviews with, because that way at least nothing is as bad as Bad Kids Go to Hell.

Unfortunately, what seemed like a comfortingly bland beginning gives way to my first obstacle, as I was lulled into a false sense of security – The Bland and Stupid Opening Kill. The opening kill scene is these two, who come to the beach to take off their shirts, stand on the sand and make out – I'm sure that's a great pastime in Serbia where this was filmed. Leave your pants on and don't get in the water – just take off your shirts. That's where the real sexiness is.

Ohhh yeah, cue the funky music.

Then the guy says he hears a strange sound, and the girl assures him it's just a club nearby. They don't seem to be AROUND any clubs, and I'm really not sure what clubs play weird atonal ocean music. I wouldn't want to go there though.

I wade through the ocean of cliche with no stars to guide my way. I can feel the reality setting in - I'm on my own, and there is no one to help me. The opening kill characters get killed off by a guy who clearly has watched too I Know What You Did Last Summer too many goddamn times. Like, seriously, a hook used to kill them? That's so last summer.

You've done something new this week, Rebecca - did you cut your hair?

The sludgelike miasma of the movie rolls over me in waves. I can already feel my eyelids growing heavier. But this is only the beginning of the bizarre and terrible challenges of the movie. The next challenge to overcome is the main plot, involving two American chicks who look like supermodels going on vacation to Serbia. Because, ya know, why not? We need some implausible reason to set this in Serbia! No, we can't just have a movie set there! We have to throw American tourists in like every other movie on the planet!

Already, I feel my sanity starting to go. Sarcasm won't save me this time. This is the second horrible trap the movie springs on me – that of the Awful Dialogue and the Cliche Characters. These two just blather on and on about nonsense like how hot the one girl's boss is.

"Is your editor hot?"
"No, he's in his 40s and overweight."
", he's hot?"

Also, yeah, they're here to see an old boyfriend of the one chick's from college, who now has a fiancee. Because that sounds like a good idea, doesn't it? It's practically tailored for the next episode of Dr. Phil. Cause, you know, most adults let their future spouses invite random hot supermodel-looking foreigners to come hang out for a weekend. If it sounds like a set-up for a porno, it's good enough for your horror movie.

I already feel my feet sinking, as if I've stepped in quicksand. I grasp for something to hold onto, but there is nothing. This is the next stage of traps the movie has set up – The Filler Scenes. This is a sequence of utterly dull and drab scenes of these morons actually trying to relate to the audience. This movie is so bad at that that I relate more to this than to these characters:

Yes – the movie is reverting me to a primal form. It's winding back the clock on humanity, and now suddenly, I can relate to apes. This is torture. It's the movie's test getting real. This has become an ordeal on the level of the perils Odysseus faces in The Odyssey.

Seriously – we really need all these scenes of these assholes cheating on one another, lying about it AND sitting around at a dinner table blathering about a deserted island with an old prison they want to visit? That last one is fine, but the FIRST TWO? Just unacceptable. The dialogue is just the pits, and sitting through these airheads talking about whether or not Mr. Serbian Ex Boyfriend has a guy friend she can hook up with is torture of a magnitude I have not known in at least a few weeks since I saw Ouija.

I really wanted him to just straight up say 'no, you're awful.' Ya know – be honest. It would make it better for me.

Fuck. There's even a scene where a grizzled old man in a fisherman's hat warns them not to go to the island? I'd like to say it's better to play it straight than to do the whole dumb irony thing, but I really think in Serbia, they just got the first Friday the 13th like, a few years ago, so this seems fresh and new to them.

"I only drink when I'm remembering contrived tragic backstories. And I'm always doing that." 

Also, one of the characters mentions that the guy looks like he's from I Know What You Did Last Summer. What? How dare you steal my joke? That's the first time a movie has done that. Truly, this is a devious plot – what lengths will they go to to undermine everything that I do?

Sigh. I just don't know if this is worth it. What kind of enlightenment could possibly be worth sitting through more of this movie's grueling tests of my will? Is it worth it to finish this? Who am I, really? What am I going to gain for finishing this movie? I feel the weight of all of this settling in – all the dumb characters, all the insipid lines and all the rehashed plotlines – and I sit down. I pause the movie. I reflect for a moment on all that I have seen and all that still lies ahead.

And I decide, in this moment of truth, that not finishing this piece of shit movie would be worse than finishing it, because if I don't finish it, then I just watched half of it for nothing.

And so I turn the movie back on.

The film's final test is by far the worst one – the Stunted, Dull Horror Movie Chase. The settings could be worse I suppose. But everything else is toxic poison. It even throws in some of the previous awful cliches when we get scenes of one girl whose brother drowned struggling with how to deal with her fear of water. And yet she agreed to come on vacation to a place with a lot of water and hang out near it the entire time. I don't know about you, but to me that sounds brain-fuckingly retarded.

Oh, a pointless flirting scene for a romance that goes nowhere. Excuse me while I drift further into the realm of sleep...

Then we just get a bunch of extremely rote scenes of them wandering around the prison. It's every scene you've seen in every other dumb movie like this. I want to be nicer since this is a foreign film and made on a fairly low budget I imagine. But there's really no excuse for poor dialogue and poor writing. The movie very nearly did me in with this, as it lasts for the entire rest of the film – a long, slow, agonizing trudge through nothingness and nonsense.

Like, really, how serious does the tone need to be in a movie about a bunch of dumb kids finding an island with a guy feeding random kill victims to a mermaid? This whole thing is about as silly and fun as a funeral procession for a guy everyone liked. The one thing that could have saved this was a goofy, fast paced thrill ride, but all of that was squeezed out of this movie like a tube of toothpaste.

That's really only a D minus mermaid. You can do better.

And when they randomly run into Exposition Man from earlier, Mr. I Know What You Did Last Summer, who tells them a story in a very monotone voice about how he was the only survivor of a shipwreck on this island years ago after the mermaid killed his crewmen. Wow. How sad. Let me play the world's smallest violin.

The final battle scene goes on way too long and is yet another solution to your insomnia. Lots of ominous sounding dialogue delivered in boring hushed monotones and lots of scrambling around on a boat. Yaaaaaawwwwwwnnnnnnnn. They finally kill the dumb mermaid after it attacks them on land, which was a dumb plan from the monster's part. Really, you'd think she'd have been smart enough to not go to the one place where the humans have the advantage.

RIP...on second thought, no, I changed my mind. I don't care.

Phew. What a shit-show. Bad characters, a cliche plot and nothing remotely exciting about it, due in no small part to the ludicrous 'dark' tone the whole thing has. It's cool that this is the first Serbian 'creature flick,' and I hope they make more, but that doesn't excuse the lame things about the movie, as much as I want it to.

But in the end, I made it through the movie. I completed my vision quest journey. I am a weary traveler, and I think I deserve to know what it is that will complete my yearning soul.

So. What is it? What is the light at the end of the long, dark, murky tunnel of this movie?

Yeah, y'know what? Not worth it!

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