Tuesday, 28 April 2009

The Cheap-Arse Film Review #30- "I'M STILL WAITING FOR YOU."









PRICE: 50p

(See, this is what happens the second I try to apply some order and professionalism to what I do. For those that don't know, I have a Facebook Fanpage, where I post links to new reviews, send out messages to members, get feedback, all that good stuff. It's a laugh, and on my more arrogant days I like to think it's helping me reach a few new people. About a week ago, I decided that, as well as using it the way I was, I could also make it informative and maybe build up some more interest by putting a list of upcoming reviews on there, rather than have each new installment be a surprise. So that's what I did, along with the dates people could expect to see them.

And as soon as I did that, everything went tits up. The first, as you can clearly see, is that this review is going up late. This is totally my fault for being bloody-minded and stubborn- I've had my busiest and most fun week in a very long time, travelling around, seeing friends, hearing great music, all that good stuff. I knew it was coming up, and I also knew I wouldn't have alot of free time on my hands, but I somehow convinced myself that I'd be able to do everything I planned and still squeeze this in. Well, suffice to say, I was wrong, and I should have just realised this was going to happen and made mention of the possibility at the end of the last review. Then, after I blew the deadline, it turned out I couldn't even cover the movie I planned to! This is one of the most overused phrases on The Internet, but I can't think of any other way to describe this as than an Epic Failure. In my defence though, the movie wasn't my fault- I was going to review a flick called "El Chupacabra," but that went out the window because, to put it bluntly, the bastard thing wouldn't play. I tried it in my 360, I tried it in me PS3, I tried playing it through my laptop, I even had a go with this little portable DVD player I own that only plays American DVDs to see if it was a Region 1 disc in disguise, and each time I got Sweet Fanny Adams. No obvious reason why either, the disc has practically no scratches on it. I can only assume it came out of the factory defective, and is probably the reason the guy I bought it from was selling it for a quid in the first place. So for the first time since I started this, a movie ended up being binned without me watching so much as a frame of it.

And to top everything else, thanks to a shelf deciding to spontaneously fall off the wall whilst I was away, my entertainment set-up currently looks like this...

I like how the Wii looks all scared and confused, the 360 looks like it's protecting it, and the PS3 is off to the side as if it doesn't give a fuck about either of them.

Anyway, enjoy)

I think it's time for a Useless Top 5.

Do you think it's time for a Useless Top 5?

It's Time for a Useless Top 5.






Of all the movie-related lists I have (and I have alot, believe me) this one lives more-or-less in a constant state of flux. The only two constants are Drew and Alyson, the other three spots change on a monthly, or sometimes even weekly, basis. For instance, Isla Fisher was in there recently, until I realised not even she could could ever get me to sit through "Confessions of a Shopaholic." This list also deals with solo performances only, there are various combinations that could probably get me to sit down in front of anything. I'm convinced that one day the devastating one-two punch of Anne Hathaway and Kate Hudson will be enough to make me give "Bride Wars" a go. God help me.

The newest edition to the above list is Anna Faris, and I think she'll probably be around for a while, maybe even becoming another mainstay. I think she's wonderful, and my appreciation of her grows with each movie I see her in. There are very few women who could get me to willingly sit through a movie called "The House Bunny," for example (although, to be fair, this was during my nightmarish trip to Scotland that I've detailed elsewhere, so by that point I guess I could just chalk it up to a desperate need to be entertained by something, anything...), and whilst I wouldn't quite say I liked it... actually, I didn't like it even slightly, I can't even pretend I'm going down that road. It's a terrible and, in many ways, terrifying movie. Utterly horrendous. But I still enjoyed Faris' work on it. She's very likable (actually, I'm almost tempted to say she's too likable, because there's a very good chance any young girls watching this would think she's cool, and if I had a daughter who though that, I honestly don't know what I'd do) and she's a hard worker, to the point that you could almost see her trying to wring some humour out of the awful script they had her reading from.

And, yes, she's pretty. Very pretty. Oh fuck it, she's drop-dead gorgeous. I wanted to hold off on talking about her looks as long as possible, because it seems to be the first thing everybody else instantly latches onto. Not just with her either, but with any funny woman who looks halfway decent and knows her way around a one-liner. At first I thought it was just a slightly sexist reaction, but the more I think about it, I suspect it might be a bit more complex than that. I have a theory (again with the theories!), that people like myself, who believe themselves to be... not that physically-pleasing to other people, we've convinced ourselves that all we have to offer is our personalities. However, in an interesting side-effect of this, I think we also believe (sometime so subconsciously that we don't even know we're doing it) that anybody even slightly better looking than us cannot possibly have anything going for them beyond that. I mean, what I'm suggesting here is nothing new. Jesus, "The House Bunny" is built around this concept, and very little else. But I honestly think it's time we put this idea to bed for a while and embraced the fact that human beings are more complex on both a physical, intellectual and spiritual level than we can possibly comprehend. Failing that, can we at least admit that it's possible that good-looking people can be funny and interesting, and not-so-attractive people also have it in them to be horrible human beings?

Wow, as tangents go, that was a doozy. Let's lighten the mood with a very brief BOX REVIEW! Well, the front cover art is a bit of a rip-off of the style of one-sheet "Scream" made popular, but at least here the people featured appear to have been taken directly from the movie, and not that photoshoot-style thing where everybody's standing against a black background staring into the camera all serious. Also, I find it interesting that Faris' image is used, but her name isn't given top billing. That doesn't bode well for her chances of surviving to the end, nor does it bode well for my hopes for how much she'll be in this. Finally, and I think this the funniest aspect of the whole thing, we're told that this movie is, "IN THE TRADITION OF "I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER."" Isn't that cute? The people who made this thought we might not know what they were shamelessly ripping off.

The movie begins, and we're told that it's Valentine's Day thirteen year ago (wow, an occasion usually associated with happiness and an unlucky number! they're really not holding back). We're at one of those Lover's Lane places where couples drive to in order to hook-up, which is what the first two people we meet are indeed doing. They're both in the driver's seat, she's straddling him, her bra comes off (first breast sighting: 0:54, beating out "Cheerleader Massacre" by a whopping five seconds), and they're about to take things further (after the guy romantically asks the woman if she wants to "do it"), when a car pulls up behind them. The woman is initially startled and wants to stop, but the guy talks her back around, saying whoever it is in the other car, they're there's for the same reason. Sound logic, and really, if you're going to be getting up to this sort of thing in public, you shouldn't be a jittery as she's being. It's enough to make her recommence with the face-sucking, but then the guy gets out of the other car, and that's the final straw. They're getting ready to leave, when we see a hook scratch against one of the windows, and then seconds later, boom, it's burst through the car's roof.

I was going to rant about this, about how hard it would be to essentially punch your way inside a car, but then I noticed it was a soft-top, so I'll let it slide. However, that doesn't excuse the fact that I think a hook is one of the stupidest weapons regularly used in these types of movies. It looks cool, I'll grant you that, but that's the only thing it has going for it. Let's compare it to, say, a Dagger. A nice long Dagger. With that, you have the pointy end you can stab things with, plus the sharp edges you can slash people with. Now let's look at a hook- yes, it's got a pointy end, but other than that, it's pretty much just a blunt instrument. And the pointy end is all curled around, so the only way you can stab anybody is to slash forwards. There's no variety to what you can do. And the real kicker is the fact that your victims can easily grab hold of the thing! As I was watching this attack scene, watching the hook flail around and the two teens scream and fail at being able to open a car door, I kept thinking, "GRAB THE HOOK! GRAB THE HOOK AND HOLD HIM IN PLACE! BOTH OF YOU GRAB THE HOOK AND PULL DOWN WITH ALL YOUR WEIGHT! GET IT AWAY FROM HIM! HELL, YOU'LL AT LEAST SEPARATE HIS SHOULDER OR SOMETHING!" But of course they don't, and somehow the hook manages to cut the dude's face a little bit before the get out of the car and start doing that thing where they're crying and falling over as they're running, which makes sense at the end of a horror movie, but at this point in the proceedings it just feels like a gross overreaction (I've only just realised what a total arse that last sentence makes me sound like. "HOW DARE THESE PEOPLE BE DISTRAUGHT AT SOMEBODY TRYING TO KILL THEM!"). In their desperation, they go up to another car, intending to ask the people inside for help, only to find them dead already. Okay, so, when did the killer do them in? As far as we can tell, he showed up in his car and started attacking the first two almost instantly. Is he The Flash?

The place is now swarming with ambulances and police, with one of the officers turning up with his young daughter, her reading him what she's written in a Valentine's Day card she intended to give her mother. Do kids give their parent's Valentine's Day cards traditionally? I never did. My Mum used to send me a card. She tried to hide the fact that it was from her by signing it with question marks, but it was obvious who it was from, and when I was 12 I asked her to stop, my logic even at that age being I'd rather receive none than one from my Mother. So... where was I? Oh yeah, the killings. The officer gets out and, after being told to leave by a guy who turns out to be a therapist, inspects one of the bodies to discover it's (DUN DUN DUUUUUN) is wife. He has a breakdown, which is understandable when you take into account the fact that not only is she now dead, but she was also cheating on him. Surprisingly, they then seemingly find the person responsible for the killings in the surrounding vegetation, a guy with an eyepatch named Ray, who apparently the shrink was trying to help, saying he's built up an "extreme non-parafilic sexual attachment" for the officer's wife, who he worked with. And whilst all this is going on, we see the little girl get out of the care and put the card on her mother's body. Aw.

So, with the plot established, we jump forward a thirteen years to the "present day," where we once again met up with the girl from the previous scene, now in her late teens, along with the rest of the cast. As usual with these kinds of films, I'm not really going to try and remember any names, due to the stockness of all the characters involved. I will however be giving them all little nicknames, if for no other reason than it'll help me keep track of who's been bumped off. For instance, the first time we see the girl again, she's sitting on some steps reading a book, wearing glasses with her hair in this weird, cornrows-looking style. I think I'll just call her The Nerd and keep things simple. The school bell rings, and kids start entering the building around her. She only pays attention to two of them though- that being a blond jock with an absolutely amazing haircut that doesn't seem to move naturally even once during this entire thing (I shall call him "Haircut"), and his friend, who you just know is going to be a twat, partly because he's slightly hostile to The Nerd, but also because the clothes he's wearing just make him out as a jerk. Sometimes you can tell things just by looking at people, right? Anyway, he's "Jacket," due to the black suit jacket he's wearing over a V-Neck T-Shirt (see?). During a brief exchange between them, we find out that Haircut's mother works at the school (we later find out she's the principle), and will be giving a lecture in Health Class later that day. It's going to be one long condom joke, isn't it?

The rest of the meat gets introduced fairly quickly- we have a horny couple furiously making out ("PDA Boy" and "PDA Girl," respectively), a slightly dorky teen boy in a Hawaiian shirt and one of those bead necklaces ("The Weird One") a cheerleader, played by Faris ("The Cheerleader")(seriously, I'm not trying to win any awards for originality with any of these), and Haircut's girlfriend, who everybody seems to either hate or be a little bit afraid of. I think I'll call her "She-Hulk." They talk about meeting up later for a party... or maybe an orgy, somebody says something about clothes coming off and nobody seems to find this at all strange. I'm lucky I could hear him say that that at all really, because I noticed in this scene how shitty the sound recording and editing is- sometimes characters just sound mumbly, and then there are times when I can see lips moving and, I swear, no sound is coming out. And I'm watching this on my laptop with headphones on and the sound turned all the way up. Anyway, Haircut realises he has to dump She-Hulk, telling this to Jacket, who's exactly the wrong person he should e revealing these things too, as he obviously quite likes She-Hulk (I have to say, these little nicknames make writing about this movie alot more fun), and she also at least has a passing interest in him. So what does he do? He does what any respecting dick would do, he tells the girl the second he gets the chance, and she Hulks up and practically Rugby tackles Haircut into a swimming pool.

They both end up in The Principle's office after this incident, which allows the movie to make a few revelations about their parentage, and also tie things a bit more to the set-up of the movie. We discover, for instance, that She-Hulk's father is the Shrink from the beginning of the film, and also that the officer from the beginning is now the town's Sheriff. There's something a little bit off about The Shrink, as he seems quite distant confrontational and just a bit... creepy. He also meets The Nerd (who's become instant BFF with The Cheerleader) and tells her how much she looks like her mother, which you don't need a degree in psychology to realise might be the absolute worst thing you could say to somebody whose mother was brutally murdered. At this point, I was confused (and little did I know it'd get worse from here...), because all of this behaviour is classic of a character it's later revealed is the killer himself, but in a previous scene, we're shown The Shrink working with Ray, who he has chained up to a chair, trying to get him to admit to killing the Sheriff's wife and the other guy. And then when Ray later escapes, he kills an orderly (I'm not really sure how, but his foot appears to have been ripped off), and writes something on the wall in the dead man's blood, which are not the actions of a reasonable man who's been stitched up. Oh, and what is it he writes on the wall? What could this evil, insane killer want to communicate with the rest of the world? Perhaps "I'M STILL WAITING," as an ominous, cryptic warning about what his intentions are now that he's free? No, he writes "PRISON FOOD SUCKS." PRISON FOOD SUCKS. There's also a newspaper clipping with She-Hulk in it on one of is walls which The Shrink is only just now noticing, even though it must have been there for a while.

From this point on, we get one main plot and one sub-plot. The main plot involves the kids (even The Nerd, who's going with The Weird One so he can win some kind of bet) attempting to go to the party they were talking about earlier, but then seemingly having their lives put in jeopardy by a cruel prank- She-Hulk wants to get revenge on Haircut for dumping her, so she tells The Weird One to make sure he brings him to Lover's Lane that night, so he could catch her getting it on with Jacket. Strangely, Jacket picks the moment they're in the car together to suddenly think hooking up with his best friend's ex might not be the best thing in the world to do, and she literally has to remove her top and violently question his sexuality before he'll continue. And in the already-discussed-to-death tradition of these kinds of movies, sex and lust is quickly followed by murder and pain, as when the rest of the kids show up, they discover their mutilated bodies dumped outside the car, and are then themselves attacked, with PDA Guy getting a good slashing and being left for dead as his friends peel away in the car, crashing the thing and ending up taking refuge in a abandoned house (don't you just love how there's always one house around that nobody appears to live in that's easy to break into?).

The Subplot involves The Nerd and Haircut's parents, The Principle and The Sheriff, searching the town for both them and the killer. I think I like this plot a little bit better than the main one, partly because the actor that plays The Sheriff seems to be having fun with his role and not taking things to seriously, but also because we get to see more fun stuff during their scenes- The Principle punches out a drunk teen aged girl who has the balls to insinuate her son might be getting his rock's off at Lover's Lane, and when they reach The Shrink's house, it's all fun and games, as we see glimpses of the killer in mirrors before he seemingly disappears into thin air (so he is magic?), and they find a wonderfully-fake looking Dog's head in the fridge. See? This is fun. Good, trashy fun. It's not hard to do. But sadly we have to return to the kids regularly, where everything's all super-serious and everybody's always shouting or crying. There is one nice little bit, though, where they're about to put The Weird One's leg in a splint. The Nerd tells The Cheerleader to distract him, and when all her verbal attempts to do so fail on account of the fact that she doesn't know him very well, she just lifts up her top. It's funny, and the reaction of the two guys is priceless, but then they go and spoil it when, after The Weird One passes out from the pain of having is bone reset, Haircut drops the line, "Your body's a knockout." Because he passed out, you see?

Following this, DRAMA! The Nerd and Haircut, who've had issues with each other the entire movie, finally shout out their problems, with the revelation that his dead father was the person The Nerd's mother was caught cheating with. Actually, it's not a revelation to the viewer, we've been aware of this for quite some time, but it is a revelation to Haircut, which, I'm sorry, I don't buy for a second- they live in what's been presented to us as a very small community, full of people who are constantly gossiping about each other and in each other's business. There's no way, no way, you could have kept something this big from him for this long. Not without either locking him in the cellar or investing in a constant stream of hypnotic mindwipes. The off-shot of all this is the fact that what is supposed to be an emotional scene ends up making one of the main characters look like a bit of an idiot. Plus, there's further nonsense from The Nerd's side of things- she's the one who's been the most hostile of the pair throughout, but during this exchange she reveals that she doesn't and never has believed her mother was having an affair. So, if you don't believe that, why are you giving this poor kid a hard time? YOU HATE HIM FOR SOMETHING HE PLAYED NO PART IN THAT YOU DON'T THINK HAPPENED ANYWAY! Am I the only person who sees the insanity in that?

Thankfully they stop talking for a while so we can get a bit more of the distracting action in- The Nerd and Haircut go outside to find a car, leaving the still out-cold Weird one and the reasonably scared-to-death Cheerleader alone in the house, where they're sacrificed. It's during these sequences that it becomes very obvious that there's more going on here than we first thought, as The Cheerleader runs away from the killer to a small upstairs bedroom, only to be killed by somebody under the bed. So, unless he really is magic like I joked about earlier, this makes it clear that there are two killers, the logical explaination being that Ray is working with somebody else. Remember, that's the logical explaination. There's also the film's lone memorable and fairly uncomfortable kill during this bit, as The Weird One finally comes around to find one of the killers looming over him. Unable to move, he's reduced to begging for his life, uttering such pathetic pleas as, "I only wanted to get laid," as the killer runs his hook all over his body, before violently stabbing through both his legs (we're ever shown the knife going through the wood under the table), before being left to bleed out.

After a surprisingly tense sequence where The Nerd and Haircut hotwire a car with one of the killers in the barn with them, they return to the house to pick up their friends, only to discover they're too late. It's here that we get the first and last truly awesome moment in this movie- one of the killers returns, and Haircut, now seeking revenge for the death of his father, decides he's going to kill him. Not with a knife or a gun or anything like that. No, completely on the fly, he's come up with the design for a DEATHTRAP! And it's ingenius- it involves filling the house with gas and taping a match to the bottom of a door, so that when that door's open, it's lit and the whole house goes ka-blooey, which is exactly what happens. Of course, the movie's not over yet, because there was about fifteen minutes of screentime left on the disc, so I thought this would be the moment where they let their guard down, and we found out who the second killer was. And I was half-right, because as they're driving along, they find the body of She-Hulk laid out in the road, who's not as dead as she was before. It was obvious at this point that she was one of the killers, and sure enough, as soon as they arrive back at Lover's Lane and The Nerd gets out of the car, she starts attacking Haircut with a hook (and yes, I have wondered where she could have possibly been keeping that thing).

And then the movie starts taking the piss.

No sooner does this happen, then The Nerd is accousted by aother figure in a hood and forced into a car, where we find out it... The Shrink. Again, this wasn't really a surprise, as we'd cut back to The Sheriff and The Principle as they investigate The Shrink's ouse to find that he has a shrine of sorts to the Sheriff's dead wife (have I mentioned that the Sheriff and the Shrink are half-brothers yet during this? Well, they are. Not that it has any real baring on the script in any way), so at that point it wasn't as great a jump to assume that he's also obsessed with his daughter. And they also explain away what I thought was a masive lapse in logic at the beginning by saying he killed both the other two and then had them planted on the scene. But other than that, everything just becomes so confusing. For a start, why are he and his daughter even going on this killing spree now? She mentions something about him promising to help her get revenge on Haircut and allhis friends for him dumping her. Is that it? Teenage jealousy and fear of abandonment? Was the fact that Ray escaped just a coincidence? And whilst we're on that subject, what about Ray? Was he actually a killer? Was it him that attacked the other couple at the start? Or was it the Shrink in a convolted attempt to cover his tracks? And if so, what was Ray doing at the scene? Did the Shrink just bring him there and tell him, "Stay?" And then, just as I come to terms with he fact that he's got really nothing to do with anything that's been happening, HERE COMES RAY! And he kills She-Hulk, seemingly for revenge! And then I remember there was a random killing in a gas station earlier, which also resulted in a cop being butchered and his squad car being stolen, which would have made no sense if it had been done by either the Shrink or She-Hulk. Then there was the craziness at the Shrink's house, and the dog's head in the fridge. So... there've been three killers running around this whole time, one of them just off doing his own thing, completely disconnected to the plot? What was the point of that? Somebody, please, WAT IS HAPPENING!?

Things don't go on too much longer from here, as the Sheriff shows up and shoots his half-brother, who then rises from the grave for one last scare, before being killed by one of his own hook (and where are they getting these from, anyway? I can just about buy one, but three?). The sun comes up, all the lies have been revealed, and it looks like everything's going to be alright. And then we se the kids get into a squad car thats door is closed by a hooked hand, and they pull away, presumably to be slaughtered. I'd rathe than then a sequel. On the plus side, Ray drives very well for a hopelessly insane lunatic with one hand. Props for that.

This movie is total mess almost from beginning to end, that finally caved in on itself towards the end. Yes, it had a plot twist that caught me off-guard, but it wasn't playing fair. With a good twist, it surprises you, but then when you look back, you see all the signs leading up to it and you're like, "OF COURSE!" With the twist at the end of this one, you're just desperately looking back to try and see where it came from. Yes, there were hints, some of them no very subtle at all, but it just doesn't make any sense. I know I over-analize things alot of the time whilst doing this, but I don't think that's the case here, I truly believe nobody could watch the last fifteen minutes of this movie and really have a clue what is going on. I don't know how anybody could write a script with this many holes in it and consider it a finished piece of work.

There were a few other mild complains, such as a couple of continuity errors- for one, only a few minutes after being thrown into the pool, Haircut is shown sitting in his mother's car completely dry. Even his hair has magically gone back into place. Then there's the fact that the movie can' decide how old it's main protagonists are- a very big deal is made of the fact that both The Nerd and Haircut were four years old when the first tragidy occured, which, since that happened 13 years ago, wold make them both 17, right? Well, during the scenes where the Principle and Sheriff are looking for the pair of them, she tells one of the people they stop to question that he son is 16. It's a little thing compared to some of the other problems here, but it's something somebody really should have caught. And finally there's the fact that the Shrink somehow manages to survive being at the very point of a house explosion and end up with little more than some burns on his face. Surprisingly though, for a film that seemed to trumpet a very specific lack of originality on the front of the box, this isn't really a rip-off of "I Know What You Did Last Summer" beyond both those movies having killers with hooks. It's just another example of a slasher with absolutely no ideas of its own to bring to the table. Infact, I can think of only one good thing to come out of this- in one of the most recent issues of Arena Magazine here in the UK, there's a feature on Anna Faris, where they talk about this movie. It's not mentioned by name, but it's discribed as a slasher movie so terrible, it put her off playing it straight from that point forward.

Thank the Lord for small mercies.



Two movies, some train tickets, a really shit homemade Hip-Hop CD and a broken Wiimote. I guess it's true, you can tell alot about a person by going through what they throw out.

Until Wednesday, I'm The Cheap-Arse Film Critic, and death is the only adventure you have left!

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